Jesus Navas: I'm not homesick anymore – now I can focus on my football
In a world of football superheroes, Jesus Navas has got the power of running. But although his pace is obvious on the right wing, the diminutive Spaniard runs away from superman stereotypes.
Navas is the human one. From the early stages of his career, the Manchester City wideman suffered from severe homesickness, an anxiety disorder that can't actually be cured.
In 2005, he was forced to call a halt to his involvement in a training camp with former club Sevilla because of homesickness, only 100 kilometres from his home city. A decade later and much further from the sunny Andalusia, on a grey afternoon in Warrington as he speaks to FourFourTwo, Navas is just fine.
Now in his third season in England, his homesickness woes are firmly under control.
''There were difficult moments, but I'm happy I could overcome these problems and focus on my football, which means everything to me," Navas tells FFT. ''The truth is that I've settled down well here in England.
"I'm a quiet guy. I like going to the cinema with my wife and going out with my son. It's pretty much the same as what I used to do back home. The weather is different, but I'm here to enjoy playing football and I'm happy with it.''
Playing with competition
Having players like De Bruyne and Sterling is very good for the club. The more top players we've got, the better
Manchester became Navas's new home in June 2013, after he'd appeared in 393 matches for Sevilla. One of his best performances this season was back at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan as City beat his old club 3-1 in the Champions League in November. For many, it might have worked as a reminder of the 30-year-old's capabilities. For the man himself, he's just pleased to contribute to his team's success.
If it looked like he could fall well down the pecking order this season following the arrivals of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, Navas has still been a firm part of Manuel Pellegrini's plans.
''I enjoy every minute on the pitch, I have the manager's belief and that's very important for me," he says. "Having players like De Bruyne and Sterling is very good for the club. The more top players we've got, the better. There are so many games during the season and there are opportunities for all of us.
"I believe we are in a strong position at the moment. We've qualified for the Champions League knockout stages and are fighting at the top of Premier League."
That's the top for me – to be able to play for your national team in a big competition
Navas already has one Premier League title to his name as well as the League Cup, two Copa del Reys, two UEFA Cups and the Super Cup at club level, plus the World Cup and the European Championship with Spain.
He is determined to earn a place in Spain's squad for Euro 2016, and help his country to what would be a third successive European Championship crown.
"I will give everything in order to be there in France," he says. "That's the top for me – to be able to play for your national team in a big competition. We have a strong squad. I think we have enough quality and players to win the title. I'm confident Spain can make it again."
Jesús Navas wears the new black/Impulse Orange New Balance Football Furon boots, designed for players who ‘Take Chances’. To find out more about New Balance Football go to newbalance.com/football or follow @NBFootball on Twitter and Instagram