Five years of his life dedicated to FC Barcelona. Sacrifice? No, gratitude to have the opportunity to enjoy his passion. We interview our footballer Ion Perelló who travelled during four years from Tortosa to Barcelona in order to train with FC Barcelona. When he was 15 years old, he entered in La Masia. This is a story of sacrifice and effort to enjoy football, but also a story of hope and honour for wearing the Barça shirt.
At the age of four, the little Ion Perelló started playing football with CD Tortosa. He always followed the ball. Until the age of 11, this natural relationship with the ball was forged in his city’s team, the CD Tortosa. At the age of 11, he was called to participate in Barcelona FC sessions. He just needed one day to get the attention of the FC Barcelona staff that invited him to join the team. He did not hesitate. He answered a confident and full of hope “yes”. With a nostalgic voice, he explains to us that everything was a bit overwhelming for him. A boy from a small city that did not visit often Barcelona, suddenly finds himself in a big city, in a historic club, surrounded by future stars and with just 11 years old. However, Ion Perelló admits that he did not have fear either pressure, but the illusion to have the opportunity to play in one of the worldwide best clubs.
Sacrifice could define the three years he travelled from Tortosa to Barcelona by taxi, three days per week, to train with FC Barcelona. But Ion Perelló assures us that he did not feel it as a sacrifice, but as the opportunity to fulfil a dream. However, dreams are never free. From 11 to 13 years old, a taxi picked him up in Tortosa and drove up to the capital, picking up other players on the way. It was two hours round-trip, 177 km to go and 177km back, three times a week for three years to train. On the way up, he got up to date with the other soccer players in the taxi. On the way back home, all of them were asleep. In addition, he had to skip classes in the afternoon and had to arrive home after 11 o’clock at night. Although he never thought about all he was leaving behind, his parents always reminded him of the importance of studying. But for Perelló, the school was not the most important. Football was, is and will always be the most important.
After three years travelling to Barcelona, when he was 14 years old and La Masia was under construction, Perelló was transferred to CD Tortosa. Although he had already signed with FC Barcelona for the following season, he was loaned to the club in his city so he could attend more classes. Even so, he continued training two days per week with FC Barcelona and participating in tournaments and friendly matches with the Catalan club. The following year, with La Masia already built, he went to live in Barcelona. We asked him about La Masia and he admits that he always had his head at home, especially at the beginning. He missed his family and was constantly thinking about the life his friends were living in Tortosa. A live very different with his, Perelló used to get up at 7:30 in the morning, had breakfast and prepared the sandwich for Highschool. A bus took them to the Institute in Barcelona, Lleó XIII, to attend classes during the morning, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Then, they went back to La Masia where they had lunch, rested and had private classes. After two hours of training, they had dinner and went to bed. At 11 o’clock at night the television automatically turned off, it was time to sleep.
Perelló admits that during that year he never got bored, there was always a friend to bother. But with a thread of frustration in his voice, he remembers that was hard for him seeing his friends having fun in Tortosa without being able to join them. He would have loved to enjoy his dream at FC Barcelona while enjoying his friends. But when he says it loud, he quickly adds that he is aware that it is not compatible. This was one of the sacrifices he had to make to enjoy his passion. A sacrifice that not all those around him were aware of it. He remembers that many of his friends encouraged him when they saw him sad, but he also remembers that many others were not aware of everything he was leaving behind. According to Perelló, many people are not aware that by playing for FC Barcelona he missed many family meals, Christmas dinners, Easter holidays… Now he confesses that he would tell his 15-year-old self not to miss home and to focus more on enjoying the moment, that this is a unique opportunity that should not be missed.
To finish, we asked him about his learning at FC Barcelona. As a footballer, he learned a new way to understand the game and the ability to positively manage the pressure. He remembers that as a Barça player he was always in the spotlight, both in matches and in training. There are so many players desiring to wear the FC Barcelona shirt that you have to constantly prove your worth to continue being part of the club, he explains. Despite this, Perelló admits that he did not live it with stress, but as something positive and encouraging. From his years in Barcelona, he also remembers the professionalism and discipline that they teach him. In addition, he admits that in La Masia they were educated to have a good behaviour as representatives and image of the club. An education that has helped him to keep growing and evolving as a person.
Finally, we asked him about his colleagues in La Masia. Perelló predicts a future full of success for Carles Aleñá, current Barça B player, and for the South Korean player, Lee, who is currently playing in the Italian first division. league These two names were the first to come to mind, although he admits that others will for sure have success in the football world. Ion Perelló ends our conversation admitting that he will never forget the five years he played for FC Barcelona. That it was a lifetime experience.