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The English (original version) of our interview with Andreas Vou contains three episodes. These are;
1) Personal episode,
2) General football episode,
3) LFC episode.


* * *

(’Personal episode’)

Welcome! First of all Andreas, Could you describe yourself and what you do for those who dont know you?
– Hi and thanks for having me. I’m a sports journalist by trade, primarily focusing on how sport ties in with culture, society and politics. I have had work published in Rugby World Magazine, ESPN, Liverpool FC’s official website and various others. I’m a foreign correspondent for Mundo Deportivo while also being the Press Officer of the Cypriot Rugby Federation. As someone with a passion about politics, any writing on more serious topics I tend to do anonymously, these are touchier subjects so by remaining incognito readers can just judge the facts rather than the writer. I also hold a keen interest in football development and since last year I have been working as the academy scout of AEK Larnaca.

You have lived in a lot of different places, what do you call home nowadays? Cyprus/England? And how did you end up in Spain (Barcelona) & El Mundo Deportivo?
– I was born and raised in England, moved to Cyprus when I was 14, back to England for University then moved to Spain in 2011 and have been on and off since then. I don’t know what I’d call home really, I guess Cyprus is my base but I feel more ‘at home’ in Barcelona, I feel much more suited to the culture and lifestyle there – in general, there’s something alluring about being an outsider in a foreign place.

– How did I end up in Spain? It was my childhood dream to watch Barça play at the Camp Nou. I ended up going for the first time in 2006 and whereas I initially went for the team, I ended falling in love with the city so from then on I made it my goal to live there. After I finished university in 2011, I worked during the summer so I could move there, learn Spanish and make inroads in the field of sports journalism. Within the first month I was able to get an internship with Mundo Deportivo thanks to a contact of mine in Greece who had previously worked for them and since then I remain as a contributor to the paper.

If we go down more in detail, how does your job as youth scout in Cyprus look like? What qualities do you look for in a player? What’s the most important thing for a young player to possess in your opinion?
Technique is paramount. Personally, I can tell a lot about a player from his first-touch and ‘stance’ on the ball – that’s what I notice first about a player, his ‘feel’ of the ball. The sport is becoming ever more technical and without a good first-touch you won’t get anywhere. As I deal with young players, I look at the player’s intention as well as the execution; if a youngster possesses a good brain it is a massive bonus as ‘football intelligence’ is harder to teach.

As a scout, I understand that you do much research about a player’s background. How important are the things outside of football, and how important are the things on the pitch?
– It’s crucial to see how players are off the field as they tend to be a reflection of that character on the pitch. The culture of a particular place tends to mould the majority and unfortunately in Cyprus we have one that lacks ambition which precipitates down to the youth. Youngsters lack belief and there are plenty of reasons for this; firstly, we haven’t had a player make it in a big European League so there is no benchmark for kids to aspire to. Then there are the clubs who give little sign that they care about youths judging by the fact that the Cypriot League has the highest number of foreign players in Europe (74%). Then, of course, there is the complicated case whereby, upon completion of high school, each male has to carry out two years of military service which is catastrophic to the development of a young footballer. There are multiple factors but when there’s a will there is a way and I feel that we are just a change in mentality away from producing some top footballers, the talent is there without a doubt.

Who are your role models in the scouting- and journalist-industry?
– In the journalism industry, I’d have to say the two people who were my first real mentors – Cordula Reinhardt and Alberto Sanchis from Mundo Deportivo. They taught me the ins and outs of the industry and made me feel at home in what was a completely new environment for me.

– I also really admire Graham Hunter and Sid Lowe. They are two journalists who never sensationalize, never create false stories yet are repeatedly accurate – they should be the reference point for any aspiring, or even established, sports journalist. Outside of sports, John Pilger is the definition of a proper journalist, who tackles the most serious of issues head-on with calmness and astuteness. In the age of blogs and Twitter, the definition of ‘journalist’ has become very vague but if anyone wants to know the real definition of one, they should look him up.

– In scouting, I’d have to say Tasos Makis, the academy director at AEK last season. He’s someone with a clear vision on what needs to be done to have success at youth level. He has a very idealistic approach which is something I feel we have in common.

* * *

(’General football episode’)

* * *

How closely do you follow leagues like La Liga and Segunda Division in comparison to others?
– I follow La Liga religiously; those who dismiss it as a two-team league are really missing out. Sure, Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate but there is an abundance of quality throughout the league and the fact that the ‘other’ teams have performed so well in Europe in recent years is a testament to that.

– I don’t really follow the Segunda Division too closely to be honest. However, I do enjoy watching Barça B and keeping up with Catalan clubs like Girona who did so well last season.

How good is Segunda Division in your opinion? Many in England (and Sweden for that matter) are unsure what level the league is on. The comparisons with ’The Championship’ often come to mind..
– The Championship is marketed better but the differences between that and the Segunda are similar to those of the Premier League and La Liga. The former is much faster and more competitive but the latter is more technical, tactical and methodical – this isn’t to say one is better than the other.

The distribution of TV money in the Spanish football is undeniably just as unfair as it is controversial, what is your view on the current system?
– It’s a farce and everyone in Spain knows it. It’s detrimental to the league for two teams to receive the lion’s share of TV revenues. Just look at how many Spanish stars have been sold to teams in richer leagues in recent years, the teams simply can’t keep up anymore. Even as a Barça fan I, and others alike, feel there’s not the same thrill as winning the league title anymore when the competition is getting weaker. And by the way, this doesn’t help the big-two either; if they compete against weaker teams each year they will become weaker too and they will struggle to adapt when they go up against top opposition in Europe.

– The fact that each club president (apart from the big-two) united to protest against the imbalanced TV revenues a few years ago, only to withdraw after a private meeting with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says a lot about where the majority of power lies in Spain.

* * *

(’LFC episode’)

* * *

What do you think about Brendan Rodgers’ LFC project?
– Personally, I’m a massive Brendan Rodgers fan. You just have to read or listen to any of his interviews to get an instant understanding of what an articulate mind he has. The importance of having a set philosophy in English football is often underestimated with most teams and fans demanding instant success. Liverpool are very wise to have employed someone who can implement a long-term approach.

Last season you tipped Liverpool to reach 7th place, what do you think Liverpool need to reach the Champions League?
– We saw last year how Liverpool improved vastly in the second half of the season. It was quite a logical progression for a team adapting to a new and very specific style of play. Still, top four will be a big ask this season as I feel that last year’s top-five are still stronger but Liverpool fans shouldn’t demand it yet. If Rodgers is given the time and the backing to fully implement his philosophy, the club can once again compete for top honors for years to come, and that’s worth being patient for.

What do you think Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas can add to Liverpool?
– Rodgers seems to have a policy whereby he only signs players in their mid-20s or younger who are hungry, who have great potential and are determined to showcase their ability at a top club and both players fit that profile. Alberto and Aspas will help to further Rodgers’ desired style of play and the fact that all of his previous recruits share mutual qualities will help them settle in quicker too – that’s the benefit of having a set philosophy, everyone reads from the same page.

– Are there any more potential bargains in Spain for LFC to sign? I have heard alot of good things about players such as Oliver Torres, Christian Alfonso and Alejandro Grimaldo, to name a few. But I’m sure there are cheaper options aswell.

– It’s simple: England doesn’t produce much quality, Spain does. English clubs have money, most Spanish clubs don’t.

– For that reason, we will see more and more English clubs shopping from Spain as Premier League clubs look to adopt the Spanish way of playing. At the moment, Spain is churning out frighteningly good talent at an incredible rate but, due to the state of the economy, clubs are struggling to keep hold of their assets. There is far better value for money with Spanish players.

Last question. What do you think of Suso’s move to Almeria? Is it a smart/good move for him?

– It can only be a positive move for both Liverpool and Suso himself. He’s going to a newly promoted top division team where he will be playing regular first team football. The fact that the club has loaned him to a Spanish side indicates that they prefer him to continue learning in an environment that encourages good passing football, similar to the type Liverpool want to play, rather than sending him to a physically demanding league.