Academy starlet Victor Maffeo tells all about his family ties to Manchester City.
- Victor Maffeo is our Academy feature in Monday's Emirates FA Cup programme.
- Versatile Spanish youngester Maffeo tells of his family ties to Manchester City.
- Victor gives an insight into the life of an overseas Academy player.
Speaking for the official Wigan Athletic match day programme ahead of Latics' Emirates FA Cup fifth round tie with Manchester City, Academy player Victor Maffeo lifts the lid on his family connection to our Monday night opponents.
YOUR STORY STARTS IN BARCELONA WHERE YOU WERE BORN, TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR UPBRINGING.
“I was born in Barcelona and lived there until I was 13-years-old. I played for my local teams Cornella and Espanyol where I learned the tactical ways of the game.
“I grew up in Sant Joan Despi near Barcelona’s training ground, around 10 minutes from the centre of Barcelona. It was a quiet part of the city and a very good place to grow up in.
“When I was very young I enjoyed playing football rather than watching it. My Dad and brother would take me to Espanyol games and we saw Barcelona play a few times, so I would say I had very good influences from a young age.”
YOUR BROTHER, PABLO, PLAYS FOR MANCHESTER CITY AND IS CURRENTLY OUT ON LOAN BACK IN SPAIN WITH GIRONA, HOW DID BOTH OF YOUR MOVES TO ENGLAND COME ABOUT?
Victor's brother Pablo in action for Manchester City.
“My brother was the first to move over, he came on his own and stayed with a host family when Manchester City signed him.
“A year later I came over with my mum and my sister to learn English and be with Pablo whilst he played his football.
“I played a couple of times in friendly matches for Man City as well, and we lived close to the Etihad Stadium, so on occasions we would go and watch them play.
Victor signing his Latics contract with his mother and father.
“At that time I had a good relationship with Wigan Athletic as well and when I reached the under-16 level I signed for the club.
“My Dad stayed in Spain to work, but he would travel over every single weekend. He worked across Spain in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and lots of other places, so he was used to travelling, but he always made sure he would visit Manchester to be with us.
“Everyone is back in Spain now because Pablo is playing back there, but my mum and my dad still come over every two weeks to spend time with me, and I really appreciate their support.”
HAS IT BEEN A TOUGH PROCESS BEING AWAY FROM YOUR FAMILY?
“Yes, it’s been very difficult, but I am working to be a professional football player and to do that I know I have to make sacrifices.
“It was especially hard at the beginning because I didn’t know any English and only two of my class mates could speak Spanish. It stayed like that for the first three to four months, but with time everything has changed, I like to think I speak very good English now and I’ve made some great friends within the club.
“I still find things tough at times because I got used to coming home from school and training and seeing my family, but now I can’t do that because they’re back in Spain.
“I try to keep my mind focused on playing football and training every day. I know this moment of my life is going to be a challenge.
“I live with Adam (Long) who is also away from his family who live on the Isle of Man, so we have each other. If I go back to Spain and he stays in Wigan then I call him to see how he is because I know exactly how it can feel.”
HOW IS YOUR BROTHER DOING NOW HE’S BACK IN SPAIN WITH GIRONA AND HOW MUCH DO YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
“He’s doing very well, he’s played against (Lionel) Messi and Cristiano (Ronaldo). He man marked Messi in a game for 90 minutes. Pablo called me after the match to tell me that Messi said to him ‘when are you going to stop following me around?’ I don’t think I stopped laughing for the rest of the night.
“I am very proud of him. He has played for Man City a few times before the loan moves to Girona, but I still haven’t seen him play live yet because every time he has played I’ve had training or I’ve been travelling to and from Spain.
Pablo Maffeo in action for Girona against Real Madrid's Marcelo.
“I have watched him on the television, and that fills me with pride. He taught me a lot about football when I first started playing and we always have each other’s backs. I remember calling him when I was told I would be playing right back for the Under 18s, I said ‘Pablo, what can I do?’ and he told me to relax, listen to the instructions and work as hard as you can.”