When Fernando Amorebieta makes his Fulham debut, he will become the first Venezuelan to play in the Premier League. In a sign that the English game has now truly gone global, his birthplace will be the hundredth different nation to be represented by a player in the English top flight since 1992. We haven’t heard much from the central defender since his surprise summer transfer from Athletic Bilboa, but courtesy of this terrific interview by the Guardian’s Spanish-based football writer Sid Lowe, he’s been expanding on his excitement at moving to England.
The 28 year-old admits that leaving Athletic was a wrench:
I had gone round and round thinking about leaving Athletic. It wasn’t an easy decision but I wanted to experience something different. If I had not gone I would have regretted it.
For me it’s a step forward. The Premier League, London and Fulham: a very welcoming club, a family club, one that has a special warmth. They have a long, important history, it’s the oldest club in London and that really attracted me. There were other clubs, but Fulham was the option I liked best.
London makes quite a difference. If you need to travel home, it’s closer and easier; there are flights every day. We’re away from home and that may be hard but that doesn’t frighten me. In fact, it’s exciting.
Amorebieta is working hard to improve his English.
Well, bit by bit. I’m taking classes and have been for months. But the most important thing is quickly to feel part of the team, to contribute. That’s my short-term aim. In the long term, I’d love to be able to see out my [four-year] contract here. And if in that time I have been able to prove myself, play well and win them over and they want me to continue, then I’d be delighted and I would think about it. I’d love to play in England for a long time.
The defender was a fans’ favourite at Athletic and Lowe believes he has all the attributes to do well with Fulham. His physical approach to the game means he shouldn’t find it difficult to adjust to the tougher nature of the English game.
I’m a player who goes in very hard all the time, sometimes too hard because in the Spanish league the slightest touch and you get a foul against you. It’s true that at times I have to rein in that impetus, that fight, yet it’s also true that if I did not have that I wouldn’t be the player I am. But in England it’s totally different. People tell me that the player who is ‘hard’ or ‘dirty’ in Spain is ‘committed’ in England. There are different interpretations, a different culture, and that might help me. I think I’m going to like it and I hope they like me.