ASTANA – Miquel Riera, the international sport director of FC (Football Club) Astana 1964, seeks to promote Kazakh players in Europe, especially in Spain. He has worked as a football agent for many teams in Europe and represented many players in the European leagues.
The Astana Times recently interviewed the Spaniard to identify his future objectives for the team.
How did you get the job in Astana?
I have been representing Dramane Kone, an African player on the team, for the last three years, so for that reason I have (established a good rapport) with the president (of the club) during this period. I have been inside professional football for the last 10 years (as a) professional football agent. During this period, I have represented big teams like Shakthar Donestk, Dynamo Kiev, Galatasaray, Betis and RCD Mallorca, for example and many players from the national teams like Geremi (Real Madrid/Chelsea).
What achievements do you have to date in coaching or playing?
I was in Astana for four months this year to watch, to teach and to prepare the most talented players from the academies for our football team. I followed them all this time, I chose (with my president) the best talent from our children and we prepared them following the Spanish methodology. My target is to promote the Astana children’s academies in Europe and especially in Spain, find opportunities for the best children to test with a professional football team in Spain and to create and organise the structure of professional academies in the club.
What is the prospective of your team today in Kazakhstan?
My team in Astana wants to become an important team, not only in Kazakhstan but also in Europe. Our project with the children in Kazakhstan is pioneering and we (have) succeeded at the moment in only one year of the project. Of course, to complete this nice target we need at least three or five years to see results. We are on the right path; it’s a big project for Kazakh football. We made the first step; we have to continue along the road.
What are your goals for the team in 2015?
My target next season is to grow the project that I started this year and to continue to work and make professional and strong football with respect for Kazakh traditions.
How were you accepted in Kazakhstan in general beyond football?
I accepted the job in Astana because I think there is a serious possibility of developing Kazakh football. It is a personal challenge to achieve this objective. I feel very accomplished and professional working in FC Astana 1964.
What would you say are your challenges in Kazakhstan?
I think I can help a lot with the development of football in Kazakhstan. (There must be) much trust in my ability and I know that this project was executed successfully. Of course, I have a professional ambition to continue to grow more in the future in Kazakhstan.
Tell us an interesting story, perhaps amusing or funny, that you have encountered in Kazakhstan.
Since the first day, it surprised me a lot how to use private taxis in Astana [just by flagging them]. In Europe, this is forbidden because it can be very dangerous, but in Astana it has been normal during these four months. I maybe have used 100 private taxis and it has always been safe and the taxi drivers are very kind to me. I get asked a lot about me, the country of my traditions. … For me it is very funny having to negotiate the price before getting into the taxi. Another thing I find funny is the Alatau Sport Complex; many children want to take pictures with me…
I would like to say that I feel very proud to work in Astana. I have started to love Kazakhstan and the people from Astana. I believe Astana is an amazing city and I am all for promotion of the capital everywhere in Europe. When I am in Europe, I miss Astana and the Kazakh traditions. I am learning Russian because I want to communicate with the people by myself without a translator. I feel the people from Astana respect and appreciate me and my job, especially after the Spanish tournament that we attended in November. I would like to thank [FC Astana 1964 president] Galym Ibrayev because he brought me to the team as his personal choice and I hope not to disappoint him. I respect and love Kazakhstan. I feel like I am also Kazakh. I feel very comfortable here. I have a Kazakh mind and blood.