Former Atlético Madrid defender Tomas Ujfalusi, who left the club over the summer to play for Turkish giants Galatasaray, spoke to AS reporter Özgür Sancar on Wednesday ahead of his side’s derby against rivals Fenerbahçe.
The still-beloved Colchonero idol shed some light on how his transfer to the Süper Lig came about in June, and admitted that he has encouraged want-away Atleti winger José Antonio Reyes to join him in Istanbul.
Reyes has reportedly already agreed terms with Galatasaray, and is expected to bolt the Vicente Calderón this coming winter transfer window.
The following is an excerpt from Mr. Sancar’s interview with Ujfa. The complete interview can be found here.
Özgür Sancar: You went from being an idol of the Calderón to becoming a star of the Ali Sami Yen…were you expecting that?
Tomas Ujfalusi: It was a surprise. I was convinced that I would retire at Atlético. My wish was to win a title again; fight for La Liga. I really miss Madrid, my friends and the Rojiblanco supporters. At Atleti I experienced the most beautiful stage of my career. But football is full of surprises and my transfer took place in a matter of days. My friendship with Baros and Terim’s desire to have me here were key. Today we play our biggest derby, against Fenerbahçe. I’m even already one of the team captains.
Ö.S.: Are you happy?
T.U.: Yes, we are second in the league standings and we have a great project. This is the most important institution in the history of Turkey and we have to return to the level of the Galatasaray of the 2000 UEFA.
Ö.S.: Will you retire in Turkey?
T.U.: When I complete my contract I’ll be 36 years old. If I am still in good condition, perhaps I will go to the United States for a year, but who knows.
Ö.S.: You talk about Atleti frequently on Twitter, what do you think about the current team?
T.U.: I can’t say anything about Manzano because I am not familiar with his football philosophy. When my schedule allows me to, there isn’t a game that I miss. The team is doing well in Europa League and looks like another group from the one in La Liga. Kun, Forlan, De Gea, Simao and I were sold, but quality players like Arda, Falcao, Diego, Adrián and Miranda have arrived. With Diego and Falcao’s character, Atleti can grow a lot. Reyes is an excellent player but…
Ö.S.: He’s going to Galatasaray.
T.U.: That’s what it looks like. With Quique, Reyes and I worked together brilliantly on the right wing. He’s a fantastic footballer, very smart, although his success depends largely on being able to retain the ball and he is lethal in one-on-one situations. Atleti is set to lose a lot with his departure. Galatasaray, on the other hand, will grow a lot being able to deploy him as a winger or as a second forward. Over here we’re waiting for [the deal] to be resolved now.
Ö.S.: You’ve been in contact with him right?
T.U.: Yes. We speak often. He has asked me a lot of things about life over here and when I asked him if he was coming he would say ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know’. Now, in Turkey, we might have Atleti’s right wing that won the Europa League.
Ö.S.: What do you think about Arda’s start with Atleti?
T.U.: He’s already a total leader on the field and I am very proud of him. Although at Atleti there are already a lot of leaders, Arda is brave and he always tries to do something different.
Ö.S.: Did you watch the [Madrid] derby?
T.U.: Yes. Such bad luck! If it hadn’t been for those dismissals…I hope from my heart that Atleti win the one at the Calderón.
Ö.S.: Do you have a message for Atlético fans?
T.U.: Yes. That I miss them, that I hope to visit them very soon and that I wish them a lot of success.