Saturday 7 December 2019

Football only a game for relaxed Wijnaldum

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum
Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum says he never dreamed as a child of playing in a Champions League final.

The Holland star, unlike so many children, did not grow up obsessed by football.

Gymnastics was his favourite sport, even though he showed enough promise to join Sparta Rotterdam's football academy at six.

The club gave their youngsters season tickets to watch the senior side but Wijnaldum passed them on to friends.

Only when Sparta increased the number of weekly training sessions when Wijnaldum turned 10 did he realise it was something he should pay more attention to.

"I was interested in football but not like the younger kids who breathe football every day. I was interested in gymnastics," the Dutchman, who admits he's only seen highlights of Liverpool's famous 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul.

"Yeah, that's why I don't know a lot of players! I didn't even go to the games. When I was at Sparta, they gave us season tickets, but I always gave them away to my friends so they could go with their families. Even now, I don't watch a lot of football.

"When I was young I only did two days' training and one game a week. But then I started having to train four times a week, and so your focus becomes football, football, football. That was OK, because I liked it."

So he had no dreams of playing in a Champions League final. "No, I had a dream to play as high as possible, but Champions League football?

''I never really had that dream," added Wijnaldum (28), who is about to play in his second successive final.

"The only thing I wanted was to be a professional footballer and to play in the World Cup.

"But even that was just something I thought would be nice!"

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