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“Winning at the Bernabéu, the most important title of my career,” says Sheriff’s captain

“Winning at the Bernabéu, the most important title of my career,” says Sheriff’s captain

Sheriff Tiraspol, from the Moldovan region of Transnistria, self-proclaimed independent in 1990, has become the surprise of the current Champions League. And its captain, Colombian Frank Castañeda, in an interview with AFP, affirms that he hopes to go to the second round.

“We see it possible,” he says when asked if his team can overcome the group stage, although “we know that we are still the Sheriff, the small club in this great competition,” he adds humbly.

The Sheriff leads Group D, ahead of Real Madrid, Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk, after two dates, after having beaten the Ukrainians at home and the Spanish at the Bernabéu.

“Winning at the Bernabéu is the most important title of my career,” he says.

The 27-year-old forward arrived in Europe in 2017, to the Slovakian Senica, after standing out in the Orsomarso, of the Series B of his country.

He is now in his second season at the Sheriff, where he was the top scorer in the Moldovan league (28 goals) last season. Against Inter, on Tuesday, he will seek his first goal in the Champions League.

What is the Sheriff’s success based on?

In our daily work, in which we understand each other very well on the pitch. When one partner makes a mistake, there is another to correct. That is the key, the union that we have. Many times in the history of football this happens. A small team when it has players with a lot of unity, when there is camaraderie inside the dressing room, great things happen. It is what is happening with us.

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Is the victory against Real Madrid the most important moment of your sporting life?

I think it was the most important game of my life. Beating Real Madrid at the Bernabéu has been achieved by few Colombians. I think only three, including my partner Danilo (Arboleda) and me. Doing it in the Champions makes it more special. I think it is the most important title of my career. It has had a great echo around the world. And more having won being captain. Many people wonder and ask me on social networks how to become the captain of a team where you are not from that country, where you are a foreigner. All that work that we have been doing as a group makes us live this beautiful moment.

How did you feel in the minutes after your surprise victory at the Bernabéu?

There are quite a few things that go through your head. I remembered many doors that were closed to me in the past, when you are pursuing that dream of becoming a professional. I remembered all those difficult moments that I had to go through, to get to this moment. Also difficult family moments. I remembered the hard road I had to go through to get to that game. There were many mixed feelings, but I was enjoying them because I knew I deserved it, because of the hard work I had to put in to get where I was. The rival had many options, but we won. Either way, we win. As I left the stadium, on the bus, he told me that what we had just done is very big.

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What were those difficult family moments?

When I left for Europe, in the months before traveling, my mother had discovered cancer in her breast. He had started his treatment. These are hard times. One, as a son, does not want to see his mother, the most precious being in one’s life, suffer. I had to leave and leave her with that disease. I knew that I was leaving, but that God was going to heal her. I was going to work for them (their parents), so they could be well too. Thank God my mother is healthy today. It has been worth the effort of all these years to see them well.

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Can another surprise come at San Siro against Inter?

It is a matter of believing in our work, in ourselves, continuing with the same humility. We don’t believe ourselves more than anyone else. We know that we are still the Sheriff, the small club in this great competition, but we are hungry to show our potential. With that intention we will go, to show that we can win, that we can play great games. This is football and anything can happen. Yesterday you won and tomorrow you can lose. The result does not worry us, what we want is to have a great experience and show our talent.

Is the feat of going to the second round in the Champions League possible?

Yes, we see it possible. It’s up to us to play good games and try to score as many points as possible. But we cannot forget that we are playing against very large teams, which will kill you at any moment, so we must be very focused. It is up to us to continue taking advantage of every opportunity. Hopefully we can qualify. AFP (HN)

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