I have been playing football for as long as I can remember.
Every day, all the kids from my area would go to the Sindicatos after school. Sometimes it was 20-versus-20 playing in narrow streets around Ripollet, the country town where I am from, about 20 minutes out of Barcelona. Ripollet is not a beautiful place. It is where people buy their houses and go to work in Barcelona. It is much cheaper than the city.
Playing football in the streets is why I have good decision-making as a player. We played in small spaces with lots of players around us. I learned to think quickly. I would play for hours and hours until my mother would call, ‘Come on, let’s go home for dinner!’
My family did not have much money. My father, Isaías Sr, was a plumber and my mother, Maria, was a seamstress. Dad is from Sevilla but moved to Catalonia with his brothers for work.
He followed the football team from Sevilla and I did too. I loved Dani Alves and Jesus Navas. The other kids supported only Barcelona or Madrid. They laughed at me because of Sevilla. I didn’t care. For me it was no problem.
My father was a footballer but not at the highest level, I think maybe third division. He worked all day and didn’t get much money for football. He only played in small leagues for fun. They say he was a good player, but I did not see him play.
He used to bring me to the park, to futsal pitches, and we worked a lot together. He would always be saying, ‘Shoot stronger!’ or ‘Pass it with your left foot!’ or ‘This is no good!’ We did this for many hours. He was hard on me. He pushed me to improve because he could see the opportunity for me.
We didn’t live far from Camp Nou, but there was no extra money for tickets to Barça games. We only had the money to live: for food, normal clothes but not much extra. I learned from a very young age that I needed to help my family. They worked very hard to help me.
As soon as I was able, I wanted to pay them back.
To read Isaías’ full story, click here.