A lot of strikers are blessed with electric pace - how are you still able to score so many goals without relying on speed?
In the Premier League, you have much less time to think – one or two seconds is the difference between scoring and not scoring or making a good pass which leads to a goal. To make up for that difference, you have to make your decisions as quickly as possible, because speed – whether it’s in your head, or your feet – is key to being a successful striker. You must also be intelligent in your movement and the runs your make and that can overcome a lot of things. A fast brain can be as dangerous as a fast body.
So, is the Premier League more about intuition than other countries?
To an extent. Part of your job is to think about what’s going to happen and anticipate moves because you know that anything could occur at any given moment. However, there is certainly less time to process all the information in front of you, so there are times when you are playing on instinct and your feel for a certain situation, based on your previous experiences.
More after the break
You've been compared to Fernando Morientes - what do you think about the comparison and how would you describe your style of play?
A lot of people have said that and I feel an awful lot of pride to be compared to such a great centre-forward. As for me, I’m powerful, good with my back to goal and a good finisher. The latter of those qualities is the most important. That’s what being a striker is all about, scoring goals from as few touches as possible.
You're a good finisher with both feet – how big an advantage is that?
It’s huge. Logically, you have double the chance of scoring. It’s the same with your head, which I’ve now spent years working on in training. It’s always been a part of the game, which I’ve enjoyed. If you really enjoy doing something; it no longer feels like work when you try to improve it. If there’s a secret to continuous improvement, that’s it.
There are very few pure goalscorers in the modern game – why do you they've vanished over the years?
In the past you used to have much bigger strikers or forwards whose only job was to score goals. Now teams need their forwards to move more, to look for spaces between defenders and to play with their backs to goal. A centre-forward has to be a complete player because football has evolved to one-striker formations, which changes the way you play. The modern striker is much more than a goalscorer, he needs to make assists and defend from the front as well.
A lot of teams play with one striker in attack - what attributes do you need to be a success in this position?
Above all else, you’ve got to be more intelligent than the defenders. I try to be constantly on the move to lose my marker, which is the most important thing for a striker to do - other than scoring of course. If you are too static, it will be easy for two centre-backs to mark you and keep you out of the game. Keep them guessing by moving into areas which will make them uncomfortable.
Spain play a short passing game, but your last three clubs - Real Madrid, Juventus and Chelsea are often more expansive - does that change the way you play for club and country?
It’s just something that you have to get used to. To an extent you have to change your mentality because the styles are totally different. At Chelsea, and even Real Madrid, the game is slightly crazier, with the importance of counterattacks, but you have to adapt. With Spain, sometimes you find that the only time you touch the ball is to finish off a long passing move. It’s almost as if you’re a VIP spectator when you play in front of Isco, David Silva, Andres Iniesta or Juan Mata because they keep possession so well that you have to nick it off them from their own game! It’s a great team to play in.
As a striker, is it good to have a selfish streak? Do you need a certain type of personality to be a goalscorer?
Sometimes you need to be selfish, but sometimes not. It’s important that a centre-forward has anxiety to score goals for themselves, because that’s their job on the pitch, but you can’t be an egotist with your team-mates, only with the demands you place on yourself, in terms of the number of goals you try to score. At the end of the day, there’s no specific type of person that you have to be to be a goalscorer. Put simply, you need to have the mentality to find the net. I’m the sort of the guy that always wants more. More goals. To train more. To improve more. I want to evolve as a player. It’s that simple.
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