Thomas Gravesen on Real Madrid: “When I heard, I said I was happy at Everton. Then they said it was Real, not Atletico…”
The Goodison favourite speaks about his career in an exclusive in-depth interview for the new issue of FourFourTwo, and recalls the moment when he found out that he was being offered the chance to play alongside the Galacticos in January 2005.
“I was in the cinema with my brother when my agent called,” Gravesen explained. “I said to my brother, ‘I’ve got to take this phone call’ and went outside. My agent asked, ‘What do you think about Madrid?’
“I thought it was Atletico Madrid to begin with, so I said, ‘But I like Everton too’. He said, ‘It’s Real Madrid’. I said, ‘It’s Real Madrid?! OK... well what are they saying? What’s David Moyes saying?’
“My agent said they would come to an agreement, and after that it was up to us. From there, my agent flew down to Madrid, and because it was the winter window, Real Madrid needed to be really quick. The move happened so quickly.”
Subscribe to FourFourTwo now and get 5 issues for just £5! Read the full, in-depth interview with Gravesen in our October 2019 issue, out Wednesday
Gravesen was back in Liverpool to support Change Incorporated’s mission of getting the UK to quit cigarettes, meeting one of the players from Sunday League side AFC Townsend at the club’s local Cabbage Hall pub. The team are attempting to give up smoking, and Gravesen has visited them several times in recent weeks to offer them support.
“I hate smoking because of the effect it has on family and friends, and we found a group of lads in Liverpool who wanted to be part of the project,” he explained. “They were up for it and the project is to try to raise awareness about how bad cigarettes are for you, and what you can achieve if you don’t smoke.
“Before I started my career, players in the Danish national team like Preben Elkjaer would smoke. Now we know how bad it is for you - how many chemicals come into your body and how big a risk it is for you to get cancer and other diseases. Your heart is getting weaker, and your power leaves your body.”
Aged 19, Matty Taylor is AFC Townsend’s star player and has ambitions to become a semi-pro. He’s attempting to kick the habit after smoking for two years. The support of a former Premier League star has been appreciated - even if he’s not actually an Everton supporter.
“I’m a Liverpool fan!” he smiled. “But to have someone like him helping us, it’s a big deal. He’s never smoked and look at the career he had, so he must have done something right. I started smoking when I left school in year 11, and I didn’t really see the effects straight away. I was smoking for about two years, and I tried stopping or cutting down, but I was always going back to it. With this project, there’s been a purpose and a reason to stop. I feel a lot fitter. When I was smoking, I couldn’t really complete a half of football without getting tired. My stamina has gone up massively.”
That has given Gravesen real satisfaction – as the Dane displayed during his playing career, once he gets involved in a project, he doesn’t do anything half-heartedly.
“This project has been going for six weeks, and I’ve been over to visit the team four or five times - I’ve been here quite a lot,” he explained. “It’s the lads who fight the fight, and I’ve been here to support them. All of the lads have quit smoking, and some of them have affected their families too. Matty has gone from sleeping a lot to having a lot of energy, and feeling more motivated. I take personal pride in this, because I was really hoping that all of the guys would take to the project and stop smoking through football, through friendship and through togetherness. Quitting isn’t easy, but we wanted to show people that if you change, there’s a different life out there for you.”
Watch Thomas Gravesen in Change Incorporated's latest film, Quit2Win, on YouTube from late September.
While you're here, why not take advantage of our brilliant subscribers' offer? Get 5 issues of the world's greatest football magazine for £5 – the game's greatest stories and finest journalism direct to your door for less than a pint in London. Cheers!