Rui Silva has emerged this season as one of the best performing goalkeepers in LaLiga. We caught up with Granada's No1 about his form this season, being inspired by Vitor Baia and that stunning win against Barcelona.
Question: Well Rui, how's it going at Granada?
Answer: We'll, I've been here for 3 years now and the truth is that I feel very happy here in this city. This is a very warm city. The people help you a lot, love you a lot and this is very important to make you feel comfortable.
Q: When you were a kid, you went to watch Porto games, you dreamt of becoming a goalkeeper… and some dreams come true.
A: Yes, since I was a kid I went to watch Porto games, it is my club since I was a child, and the truth is that I liked that. I've been lucky enough to accomplish this dream and now I'm enjoying that. I know that we are a reference for lots of kids and for me this is very important and beautiful.
Q: How much did you grow, even personally or as a professional?
A: Since I arrived here in, that was my first year away from my country. At the beginning it was hard for me to adapt. Besides, I wasn't playing and you have lots of things that, until you get used to them, is complicated. But with time and patience I felt comfortable, my wife too and this was important to grow.
Q: What has changed in the last years in Granada CF?
A: I believe that the club changed a lot, in the directive part, the players… in the last years we were all compromised in what Granada is, and I think that the fans in the recent times have enjoyed a lot with us. I remember when I arrived here, that I saw the stadium almost empty, when we were losing the fans were shouting at us, and they were not identified with the team. It was normal because we had bad results. But in these recent years the fans are supporting us a lot, this helps us and it's important to win games.
Q: How have you seen your evolution in the goal? You were substitute and now you are the one and only.
A: Yes, I lived complicated moments when I arrived as I didn't play that much, it was very complicated. I wanted to play with the reference goalkeepers, like Javi Varas, who has his history, not only in Spain but in the world. To play with important people is good for you, because you learn from them and this is what happened. In those years I was without playing, I learnt from them. When my chance came, I knew I would have to take the maximum profit from it and I think I did it well.
Q: You did well because you were Zamora last season in LaLiga Smartbank.
A: Yes, I needed to play regularly, to feel important for the team and last season I believe that's what happened. I started feeling confident and from then on, I showed a great level and it was an unforgettable year for me and for the club.
Q: Who is your reference in goal?
A: Well, I used to look a lot at Vítor Baía, who was a Portuguese goalkeeper and a huge reference for the Portuguese people. I also look at Casillas, I had the chance to play against him, which was a dream came true. Now, I have lots of goalkeepers that are reference for me, not only in Spain, but in the world, such as Ter Stegen, Oblak… Elite goalkeepers, like Alisson, Ederson… I like to learn from the best.
Q: How would you define yourself as a goalkeeper?
A: Well, I'm a tall goalkeeper with great physical size. I think that I have a great foot play and my big size helps me in the aerial balls. I believe that I've been growing in the recent years. I think that I also manage well the long balls to the backs of my defenders, I think I control well that space. But I also know that I have to improve and continue growing, but step by step.
Q: Which one do you think is the best save you've made this season, at the moment?
A: Yes, against Osasuna, I believe this is the best one because I wasn't expecting that. Last year they tried it twice because I know that, as I play in an advanced position, I can take those risks. But I was lucky enough to arrive and make a great save… However if they score in this situation I would have been bugged. I think that, by the moment, this is the best save I've made this year.
Q: It is very complicated to keep a clean sheet in LaLiga. You've achieved it on 7 occasions…
A: Very difficult. I felt that in the first game, which ended 4-4. There you notice the difference between LaLiga Santander and LaLiga Smartbank. The second division is very competitive but in the top-flight there are players with great quality that define much better, and they take more profit from your mistakes.
Q: The promotion has been the best moment of you career?
A: Yes, clearly. I've played now 7 years as a professional and for me last year was an unforgettable moment. The promotion, the Zamora trophy… it was a spectacular moment.
Q: What is this Granada like?
A: Well, we are a solid team and solidary, with good people in here and we're like a family. We want to compete in the top-flight, win games, and guarantee the salvation the sooner the better, because we know that it is complicated and we want to achieve the tranquillity after that. We know that this is a hard job, but we're going to try game after game, winning the maximum of points possible to try to guarantee it.
Q: Which virtues or characteristics will you highlight from Diego Martínez?
A: I believe that he is a coach that is very close with his players, he talked with everyone, with the ones that play and with the ones that not. I think that he manages well the squad and this is very important. To have someone like this, a reference that know how to manage the squad, because it's not easy when a player doesn't play. And I know it because I've been in that situation. Sometimes you don't feel like part of the squad and you're sad, but if the coach is with you and tries to help you, you overcome every day and this is very important.
Q: What is the secret of this Granada? You reached the promotion last season, you've completed a great first leg in LaLiga…
A: The secret is that we are a team that compete all games. I think that this happened in all games. Except from the game in Eibar in which they were superior, the rest of the games I think that we've competed well and although we've lost some, we've competed until the end and we could get the draw or even the win.
Q: How do you analyse the team this season?
A: Well, I believe that we've started LaLiga well. We know that in football there are good and bad moments, and we've been through both. And what we want now is to win our next game and, as I said, guarantee in any way the salvation, to win the maximum points possible and let's see what happens from here until May.
Q: At a personal level, how do you feel?
A: Well, I think I knew about the demand of the top-flight. I was mentalised for it and I got ready at this level. With games I've been getting more confidence and I believe that until now I've been in a good level but I still have a long way to improve, like everyone.
Q: And, what can you tell me about the fans? What do you feel when you play in the Nuevo Los Cármenes?
A: It is a feeling that I have no words to describe because is wonderful to play the games with the stadium full of people. It is gorgeous and very important because we need them to win games, and with they there it's easier to win.
Q: Were you surprised for how this city lives the football?
A: Well, yes. The truth is that when I arrived, in Portugal I was used to play with 1000 or 1500 persons in the stadium, and here there are 15 or 20 thousand. It is very beautiful and passionate. Here the fans live a lot for the football and for the players, you are recognised in the streets and, when things are going good, is fantastic. Then when they're going wrong is more difficult but like everything.
Q: What did you talk about in the locker room when you were LaLiga leaders?
A: We weren't talking about that. We knew that it was the beginning of LaLiga and it wasn't important. For sure it is beautiful to come from LaLiga Smartbank after a promotion and being up there, but we wanted to enjoy and we weren't thinking about it, and we weren't looking at the table. We wanted to win games, which is the most beautiful thing in football, and in the top-flight is way more difficult and this is important because you give more value to it.
Q: How did you live the victory against FC Barcelona?
A: It was a very beautiful victory, for sure, for winning a club of such an importance and dimension but we give great value to all the victories. It was a beautiful win because it was Barça but there were also difficult games that we won too, and these have great value too.
Q: How does a player get motivated to continue at this great level?
A: We have to take care of all details with the demand of the top-flight. We have to take care of the food, the rest, the gym, the prevention… we have to take care of everything because we know that we are professionals and that we live thanks to this. So we have to be strong at all levels, even mentally to continue believing in yourself.
Q: The main goal is the salvation, but can you reach something even bigger?
A: For sure, and we are going to fight for it in all games like if they are finals. Then you can win, draw or lose, like some games in which we lost in the last minutes, because everything can happen in a football game. But we are going to fight all games.
Q: Is it important for you that LaLiga recognises your work? You were nominated for the player of the month in October…
A: Yes, it is true, maybe because this is my first year in the top-flight and in the beginning is normal that there might be some doubts and people don't know me yet. But later on with what you're doing, they give value to your work and this have a great merit and it's beautiful. I appreciate this and I'm very happy for it.
Q: Which strikers from LaLiga made it most difficult for you?
A: There are a lot of them. In this division all of them are good. Of course there is Benzema and Luis Suarez, they are players with great level, but lots of teams have great strikers.
Q: And which goalkeepers you like for their conditions?
A: Ter Stegen and Oblak are the ones who I like the most.
A: There are no words for Iker, he is a legend. I had the chance to play against him three times and I'm very happy for it. When I was a kid I was dreaming of competing against the best and I had this chance. He is a legend and I hope he doesn't retire yet and that he can play more years, perhaps.
Q: What is your goal this season at a personal level?
A: Well, I want to keep more clean sheets, it is very difficult, but it is beautiful and not only for me, but for the team, and we are going to fight to achieve it. But what I really want is Granada to stay in the top-flight. This is my main dream now.