Luis Garcia has lifted the Champions League at club level, played for Spain at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, and still calls two of the most legendary grounds in world football – Camp Nou and Anfield, his spiritual home. So it is safe to say he recognises what it takes to make a stadium great.
So on his recent visit to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s offices in Doha to see the progress being made for the 2022 tournament, the former Liverpool and Barcelona winger took a keen interest in the spectacular designs of the stadiums, highlighting the intriguing blend of tradition and modernity.
“I’m really very impressed with what I’ve seen here today, especially the unique Arabic designs of the Al Bayt Stadium and Al Wakrah Stadium. I’ve been visiting Doha for quite a while and been seeing the changes in the country and the city, and just to see how these futuristic stadiums are starting to grow is great,” the former Spain striker told www.sc.qa in an exclusive interview.
“To arrive here and know you don’t have to travel or fly and that you can rest, that is a fantastic thing to have. The facilities are very important when you are in a World Cup. When we were in the World Cup in 2006 we were in a small town, so we were far away from everything.
“That’s not easy because even though you have to focus, life still goes on. You need places to clear your mind, rest, recover and watch a movie, go for a walk, so it is very important to have this. I can’t wait to see the progress and to be at the World Cup in Qatar, I like what I have seen.”
The Badalona-born player, who rose through the ranks in the youth teams of La Masia – F.C. Barcelona’s iconic academy, also said he has also seen an outstanding passion for football in the entire Arab region on his numerous visits.
“Aside from regularly visiting Qatar, I have been to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and you feel the passion when you see the people watching the games, they are crazy about football,” he continued. “I arrived the other day to my Doha hotel and on my bed there was ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ written in rose petals, that shows you the passion of the city for football.”
“It shows that the country and the region needs something like this World Cup, the players will come here, the league will get better, people will start hearing more about the country. Xavi has already arrived and Sergio Garcia arrived and people will start hearing about the World Cup. Millions and millions of people are going to be watching in 2022.”
On the matter of the more immediate future, the former Atletico Madrid forward also said he favoured his former side to go all the way in the UEFA Champions League this year, highlighting the fantastic form of one player in particular.
“With Barcelona out, who were the favourites for me, I will go for Atletico Madrid,” he said. “They are a very serious team, they know exactly what to do, and where you have to be. Right now all of the four are very good, but Bayern in one of the most powerful teams.
“I see Atletico Madrid very strong and confident in the way they play. It is one of the best defensive teams in Europe, and Bayern have to be very careful about Torres because he is very confident now, scoring goals again. There is also Griezmann who has been fantastic for the whole season, and many players in the team want to win that trophy which they missed out on two years ago.”