Next in the player Q and A’s is a real fan favourite, Pedro Matias. Here is what he had to say.
You started your career with Real Madrid, how was it being a part of one of the biggest clubs in the world?
For me it was like a dream come true, I supported Real Madrid since I remembered and to be able to wear that shirt and play in Bernabeu Stadium was unbelievable. Not only I was coached to play football, I learn valuable things to normal life, effort, team work and constancy. How did your transfer to Walsall first come about?
I was playing for Logroñes in Spanish Championship and offered the chance of a trial in Macclesfield, I went there thinking in a short period but instantly fall in love with English football and signed until the end of the season. Unfortunately we weren’t able to reach an agreement for next season and I moved to Tranmere. There I haven’t many chances to play regularly and I got the chance for a trial in Walsall. I played a reserve game and Ray wanted me to sign a short term contract. I signed three months on a Thursday and playing and beating Birmingham on a Friday night, what a start… You know the rest, I ended up paying nearly 5 years for Walsall in one of the best times in my life footballing wise…. I will never forget that period.
What was it like working under legendary manager Ray Graydon?
He gave me confidence from the very first minute, I was hard in the training ground but always looking for the best of the team and the club. I will always be grateful to him for giving me the chance to join Walsall. Great to work for him.
What was your favourite goal?
Best goal for me was against Fulham in my first season but I will always remember the two against Stoke in semi- finals of play – off.
What was your favourite match to play in?
In my mind the Semi- Final against Stoke will always be up there but the game at Cardiff was by far the best day in my footballing career, that scenario and the joy of Walsall supporters can’t be beat.
Who is the best player you ever played with?
At Real Madrid I enjoyed the likes of Guti and Raúl but playing alongside Zigor on the left flank was my best time in football. We both enjoyed every single game we played together. Jorge Leitao has to be up there too. One of the best strikes I played with.
Who is the best player you ever played against? Not only a player, that West Ham team we faced in the FA cup( and nearly beat) had one of the best squad of players I played against. Di Canio, Kanoute, Lampard, Joe Cole,…. Amongst others…
What was it like being part of the side that won in the Play-off final in 2001?
That year was special from the start. Just after being relegated the previous season, great team spirit and squad of players and coaches, fighting together from the very first minute and topping up last day in Cardiff, hard work but with a big price at the end.
What was it like moving from Ray Graydon to Colin Lee as a manager?
Different mentally and coaching approach, it was hard to say goodbye to Ray but Colin did a great job too.
Do you still follow the Saddlers? Of course, I follow every game, not the best times at present but looking forward for the club to move to a higher division. I still having contact with supporters in Facebook and even I had the chance to meet Claire and Phil in Madrid a couple of times. They brought me a shirt and I proudly wear it in Madrid.
What are you up-to in this lockdown?
Difficult times around the world, just waiting for this nightmare to be over with everyone safe and well. I can do some work at home and a lot of cooking, I love making new dishes.
What is next in the football career?
I’m actually working as senior Scout for Leicester in Spain and Portugal, they gave me the chance and really enjoying my job.
Finally, would you like to say anything to the Saddlers fans?
I will be always grateful to them for the way I was treated in Walsall and still feeling the love of the fans. Walsall will always be in mi heart and I promise that one day I will be back and say this personally, unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to do it in my time. I’m sure I will be back to Bescot in the future and short that out. UTS
Thanks to Pedro for answering these. We hope you are safe over there in Spain, and we all cannot wait to see you back at your second home in Walsall.