Gabriel Hernandez, « players were upset that they had lost the title »
Interview of Gabriel Hernandez
Coach who just won Champions League with Pro Recco
Player of Barceloneta and of Spanish national team, Gabriel Hernandez became a coach at the end of his career. After a first experience at the head of the Spanish national team, in Rio, for the Olympic Games, he became the coach of Pro Recco, this season, and won the Champions League.
France Water-Polo : First of all, congratulations for this title. How did you feel at the end of the match when you knew you were European champion ?
Gabriel Hernandez : « First time is always special. It was a very difficult year and the pandemic made it very special. We won this Champions League thanks to conviction and a lot of discipline » .
FWP : Did you think you were champion before the game ?
GH : « We were aware that we had the capacity to win. I knew that if we played hard and focused in defense it would be good » .
FWP : You are the first manager to lose the Italian league title after 14 in a row seasons, but you are also the one who brought home the ninth Champions League when others missed. What is your assessment of the season ?
GH : « Once again it was a difficult year. We won the Italian Cup, but the final game had already gone very strange. We led by seven goals then we were caught and we finally won with one goal in an incredible end of game. It was a difficult month because after this first final, we continued with the national championship’s one and then Final 8 of Champions League.
We certainly did not approach the championship final well, maybe a little too sure of ourselves. The truth is that Brescia deserved this title and also that we played very badly individually and collectively. We re-mobilized and we worked very hard to recover and prepare for the Final 8. In Belgrade the team was very focused and it was probably the best time of the season for us » .
FWP : Thirteen games and thirteen victories in this Champions League. Never seen ! What was the strongth of Pro Recco this season? ?
GH : « I would say cohesion. After the championship, players were upset that they had lost the title. They wanted to show another face in Final 8, it was a question of humility. We had always kept this cohesion. We made all the sacrifices necessary to win and stayed very focused on our goals and our games. The team was ready to win. » .
FWP : Were you surprised by any teams ?
GH : « Marseille played very well during the three tournaments even if the Final 8 was a little more difficult. Ortigia also performed well. It is a team which was less strong but which knew how to pose a lot of problems to its opponents. Brescia, Ferencvaros and Barceloneta were also very strong, especially when they met in the group stage » .
FWP : Who was the best player in this Champions League ?
GH : « For sure Dusan Mandic. He was determined to win and he showed it. When he took his first shot and scored, we immediately saw all this determination » .
FWP : We learned that you had decided yourself to leave Pro Recco. However, you have just won the Champions League. What happened?
GH : « First of all, I would like to thank the club, President Maurizio Felugo and club owner Gabriele Volpi for this chance they gave me and which allowed me to win this title. Sometimes life is like that and the paths must be separated. This is what happened for Pro Recco and i. I am leaving the club because I have decided to take another professional path and in no way because of my personal relationships with the leaders who are and will remain very good » .
FWP : We used to end our interviews with the question « really stupid ». Would Gabriel Hernandez have had his place, as a player, in this Pro Recco team?
GH : « It’s impossible to say because I haven’t played since 15 years. Water Polo has evolved a lot and Pro Recco players are very strong » .