Laurent Viaud

Laurent Viaud.
Laurent Viaud.

CF Extremadura Season 1998-1999

"I owe Rafa a lot. Twice he helped me to avoid self-doubt when who no-one else would have known I was at a low point, something that happens a lot in a sports career, when no-one seems interested in you.

The first time was when he wanted me to play for Extremadura. I was not in the team at Rennes and Rafa let me know that he wanted me to play for Extremadura. I arrived in Almendralejo on 31 December without knowing anybody or any Spanish, and without my family on New Year’s Eve. I talked to Rafa and he surprised me by talking about some of my games which even I didn’t remember. I realised at that moment that here was someone who lived football day and night and when you see a person with such passion the last thing you want is to let them down. Thanks to Rafa I discovered Spanish football but above all I had the most important experience of my life. I learnt Spanish and saw a new culture, a different way of life. I was made to feel like one of them and I am grateful for that.

The second occasion was when I decided to stop playing after my time at Albacete. I was going back to France where I had signed for a regional team and I wanted to become a coach. Rafa, then at Liverpool, called me to see if I was interested in being a scout in France. I couldn’t accept because I was playing at weekends but unfortunately (or fortunately) I ruptured my cruciate ligament. Rafa had been calling me once or twice a month just to chat or to discuss the French football market and when he heard of my injury he offered me the job again, although for me it is not a job but a pleasure to watch football for a living. Thanks to Rafa I never had time to worry about my future and I was luckier than most sportsmen when they finish their careers.

For all this, I am very grateful to him, but I am also lucky enough to be his friend.

All the best for you and your family, my friend. Best wishes".