Barcelona Featured Interviews

Memphis: “I play blind and deaf in the face of criticism”

Memphis Depay celebrates after scoring against Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy final on August 8, 2021 / Pau Barrena / AFP via Getty Images

Memphis Depay spoke to El Periódico on Thursday about playing for FC Barcelona, his career, his interests outside of football, and much more.

Here is what Memphis had to say:

About how he was discovered by a professional football club as a child

“One day there were tests at Spartak in Rotterdam. All the children go and play games together. I went to one of them. They liked what they saw in me and called my mother and my old club. I was 9 years old, and that’s how it all started. Then at 12 I chose to continue at PSV.”

About leaving PSV at age 21 to play for Manchester United

“Obviously I have wondered a lot, ‘What went wrong?’ I was there for a year and a half, which is a short period. The first season I had to adapt, and it didn’t go well compared to how I had done at PSV. I lost a bit of confidence, I must admit, [and] also the confidence of [Louis] van Gaal and his staff. It was hard for me. After I started the next season, I felt like I had more experience, but they changed the coach. Jose Mourinho came and I struggled to get into the team, but I think the idea of ​​giving me a chance was never in his head. And he never gave it to me. Never. I went to his office … and, it doesn’t matter. It was a very difficult period, I felt that I was training well, but the players themselves did not understand it. Pogba and Zlatan told me, ‘Why don’t you ever play?’ For me that was the confirmation that I was not going to have a choice, and I realized that I didn’t want to be in a big club without playing. I thought that I had to start over [and] teach everyone that I could be one of the best. I had a long contract of five years and a good salary, but I did not feel comfortable, so I left, and it was the best decision I could make. Obviously there are details of things that happened that I prefer not to talk about.”

About if he doubted himself after transferring from Manchester United to Lyon

“I never thought my career was going to end. People read things in the media, and sometimes it can get the message that maybe I was finished, but in my head I never got to that point. There were teams that loved me because they knew my quality, and when I was given an important role at Lyon I was able to prove my worth. Also in the selection. It was my window to show that I could play for great teams.”

About his career at Lyon

“At first it was difficult there too. I arrived in the middle of the season and had to adapt again. There were small incidents and some bigger ones with the coach. Sometimes I was off the team, and I didn’t know why. But in my second season, after the adaptation process of the first six months, I sped up. I scored 22 goals, gave several assists, and scored in big games. From that moment on I said to myself, ‘Always trust yourself.’ I got stronger mentally, I knew what to do even if the bets were against me. From then on it is easier for me to take things easy when things don’t work out, or you lose a game, or you play badly. I know what I have to do in terms of mentality to get back to my best performance. I feel mature because I have experience in life beyond football.”

About Lionel Messi leaving Barça

“Of course, we were left without the best player in the world, and I was left without the opportunity to play with him. You lose a lot of goals and a lot of assists, and you lose magic. That’s life.”

About if he met Messi before he signed for Paris Saint-Germain

“No. I didn’t even know him. He came late to the preseason for the break after the Copa América, and I couldn’t even say hello. Maybe when we meet in a game or maybe when he returns, you never know.”

About which Barça teammates he has formed bonds with

“With everyone. Everyone has been very nice and made it easy for me. [Gerard] Piqué has helped me a lot because his English is good. With Jordi Alba we also had a lot of fun. Of course, Frenkie [de Jong] and [Sergiño] Dest, because I already knew them. I found it to be a very nice people’s locker room.”

About his connection with the fans in the stadium

“I try to bring something extra on the pitch, something important for the team, also joy in the game. That’s why the connection with the fans is being incredible. It makes me feel great and I hope it continues. I will give everything on the field so they can enjoy. When I have played I have perceived their passion, and it is something with which I feel identified because I also try to play passionately.”

About what he looks for in a manager

“For me, there is something very important, which is clarity. He has to be clear with the players. If you are clear, I will try to do what you tell me as well as possible. Obviously, I am a player who creates situations out of nowhere sometimes, and for that you need freedom. Creators are always free. Head free, above all. Here with [Ronald] Koeman I know what he wants from me, I know what I have to do. There is a chemistry between us, and that is very important.”

About Louis van Gaal being hired as the manager of the Dutch national team

“When he took me to the World Cup in 2014 it was sensational, a great experience, and I learned many things. When he signed me for Manchester United at the beginning it was good, but then I experienced things that I did not agree with. It is part of soccer. He did great things in the past for the national team, and I hope he can repeat them. It is a very positive appointment.”

About his music projects and fashion brand

“I think I have more than one talent. Obviously football is my main occupation, it’s what I like the most, but I think I have a good sense for fashion and music. There is time and space to do more. I have chosen these artistic strands for a reason. They give me peace, too. So when I go back to football, I do it completely. I do not think that you have to be 24 hours aware of football.”

About the Memphis Foundation

“I started it 3 years ago. I hadn’t been back to Ghana since I was little. I went back and felt an immediate connection with the people. Now I live it as a celebration of my ancestors. And I tried to help them. I feel that I have to give back some of what I have.”

About staying in tune with the world around him

“My celebration when I score a goal means that I play blind and deaf in the face of criticism, and they work as a mental preparation to focus on myself and perform to the best of my ability. But it does not mean that I am blind and deaf to what is happening in the world. Even so, I think that you should not pay attention all the time because it can be depressive, and you cannot control everything that happens.”

About the origin of his first name, “Memphis”

“I know that it is a city in the U.S., of course, another that has the same name in Egypt, next to the Nile, and there is a passage in the bible that talks about it. In Mississippi, some of my ancestors were slaves. I want to think that it is a name with a strong meaning, and my parents knew that they would have a strong son.”