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Joel Robles assesses his first season as a first squad player

The young goalkeeper is enjoying his surroundings

He’s only 20 years-old and is experiencing the fruits of football. Joel Robles has already won two titles (UEFA Europa League and the European Super Cup) with Atlético de Madrid, although he’s also agonized over the loss of the Copa del Rey final in Camp Nou against Sevilla alongside his teammates. It was a very intense year for the squad player and he knows that he has a long ways to go, but he’s excited and has the necessary desire to face the future with optimism and security.

Joel assessed his 2010, a year in which he became a ‘rojiblanco’ first team member, in statements made to the official Club Atlético de Madrid web page. “I’m very happy. I have to acknowledge that I’m really living this experience to the maximum. To have come up through the junior academy and made it here makes me look forward to getting up each morning and training,” confessed the keeper.

Joel admitted that it’s not easy to win a spot in the team. De Gea and Asenjo are two great professionals and the netminder from Getafe has nothing but good words for them. “I’m aware that I have two great goalkeepers ahead of me on my team. Training with De Gea and Asenjo every day makes me more demanding of myself. I’m conscious that things aren’t going to be easy and that I have to give my all to earn myself a spot. I have two amazing goalies at my side from whom I learn every day and not everyone can say that,” he emphasized.

“I’ve been at Atlético de Madrid for nine years and I’m proud of everything I’ve gone through here. The most important thing is to recognize all that you’ve left behind, all that you’ve overcome and the way you’ve acted. I still have many things on which to improve. I’m aware that I have to work a lot more and experience many more things,”
he said.

The Atlético footballer commented that “it’s been said many times, but we who have been there already know this: Atlético de Madrid has one of the best junior academies in all of Spain. The numbers are there and more and more junior squad players join the first team every season, but not just to pass through; they’re players who remain as part of the project and become reference points in their position such as De Gea or Domínguez. The junior academy is responding and the way things are right now in football, leaning on the youth system is fundamental.

“I follow the junior squads closely. I like to keep up-to-date with what Atlético de Madrid B and C are doing. I have lots of friends in those teams and I still consider them as my teammates. The truth is that they’re very pleased with the situation that they’re experiencing right now and they tell me that they’re not missing out on the chance to grow and work hard,”
he asserted in the interview with the club’s official web site.

Concerning the form of the team, Joel assured that “we knew that qualifying for the next round of the UEFA Europa League was going to be tough, we didn’t achieve it and now it’s time to turn the page and focus on La Liga and the Copa del Rey. These are two competitions in which we have to play well and show what we can do. The three points that we earned in league play against Málaga were very important for us to go on holidays with our homework done and without falling off the group at the head of the table.

We want to start off 2011 strong. We’re in good form despite having gone through a slump with some tough losses in the Europa League and La Liga. The team has gotten back on track and we have to remain calm. We’ll be able to reach the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season with the support of our fans,”
he stated.

Joel Robles will be one of the top players in Spanish football within a few years. He played at Getafe’s youth academy as a youngster and arrived at Atleti when he was twelve. The injury to Sergio Asenjo (torn ACL in his right knee) opened up the possibility of debuting with the first squad to him in May 2010 against Sporting de Gijón, substituting the starter who was injured minutes after the start of the match.

In spite of his rapid rise in the football world, Joel continues to be the same easy-going and funny lad he’s always been. “My life has changed a lot athletically, but not personally. You learn a lot from sharing a dressing room with the first squad and grow, not only as a footballer. Personally, the fact is that I haven’t changed much. I continue to share my time with my family and friends. I think that holding on to your identity and keeping the people who have always cared for you close is basic,” he highlighted.

“I don’t like to speak about my qualities. I’m a young goalkeeper, with hopes and desires. I’ve always been told that I’m a calm goalkeeper, and I’m trying to improve with my feet and in the air. I believe that I’m in that process in which I’m capable of learning all that I’m taught quickly,” he emphasized.

Joel stressed that “when you start by sharing a locker room with footballers the likes of Kun, Forlán or Ujfalusi, amongst others, you always have a strange feeling. They’re very important guys in the world of football, but they’re all great people and grand professionals. They make you feel like another member of the group, they look after you and take care of you, though they also play lots of jokes on you (laughs). I can’t complain at all. We have a great clubhouse, a great group. They’re all in charge of making sure the youngsters adapt well.”

Thanks to his wingspan, Joel dominates aerial play and provides plenty of security to his teammates in defence. Joel is a goalie with quick reflexes and holds off opposing strikers well on one-on-ones. These skills haven’t gone unnoticed by Quique Sánchez Flores and his coaching staff, especially Emilio Álvarez, the first squad goalkeeping coach.

I have a very good relationship with the entire coaching staff. They’re all good people and solid professionals. We work more closely with Emilio (Álvarez). He’s a very different coach, peculiar in his ways; he’s very different from the other coaches I’ve had during my career. His way of being brings us closer to him. Emilio is making all of us young lads who work with him improve. He watches us closely and is capable of bringing out our best qualities,” he said.

To finish, Joel wanted to share with us, and with all of the Atlético de Madrid supporters, his dream of “going as far as possible with this team. I’m relaxed and am not in a rush. I’ve already won titles with Atlético and I don’t want to stop there. I want to grow as a person and also as a footballer.”