- Sindicato Dos Jogadores (Portugal) organised the Ultimate Football Draft, a tournament for out-of-contract footballers
- Teams from the Spanish, Dutch and Swiss unions took part, as well as the local team
- AFE Football Spain won the title and Carlos Indiano was voted best player "It is a source of pride for me after a very difficult situation"
Carlos Indiano had had a very difficult time for nearly six months. To be without a contract at the age of 33, after starting his career at Atletico Madrid and running the midfield at several big-name Spanish clubs, is hard to take. But on the weekend of 23-24 July in Lisbon, he got the ray of hope he needed: he was voted best player in the Ultimate Football Draft.
The Ultimate Football Draft, organised by Sindicato Dos Jogadores (SJPF) from Portugal, is an international tournament for players without clubs, which featured not only the local team but also representatives from Spain (AFE), the Netherlands (VVCS) and Switzerland (SAFP).
The AFE Football Spain team won the competition and Carlos Indiano was its star player. The aim of the tournament, and the hope of each participant, is the same: to get a contract to continue playing in top-level football.
What has it meant to you to take part in this tournament and be voted best player?
Carlos Indiano: It’s a source of pride for me after a very difficult situation, which we’re all going through. I haven’t had a club since February and I’ve spent many months not being able to do what I love doing. But I’m very happy to have been chosen for this Spanish players’ union team. This year, there’s been an all-time record number of applications and that shows how difficult it was to get a place. In a short time, I’ve reached a level of fitness and play that I thought it would take me longer to achieve.
• Name: Carlos Indiano de Marcos
• DOB: 14 September 1988
• Position: Midfielder
• Clubs: Atletic Madrid, Alaves, Cadiz, Albacete, Hercules, Cartagena, Lleida, Badalona, Marbella, Salamanca, Burgos & Las Rozas
Did you notice a special energy during the tournament, different from what you’d seen before?
Yes, I did. It could be that each of us needs to try and show that we’re still very good players, that there’s still a lot of football left in us. I’ve been training on my own, and to find myself with the ball again, feeling I was part of a group, a team, is something I needed. The visibility that this kind of tournament gives you, belonging to this group of players without a club, is very important.
What was the atmosphere like at the tournament?
We made a very good group. People have been very excited about giving each individual player visibility and there was a great willingness to train and improve. Hopefully, as soon as possible, every one of us will find a place at a club, but if it doesn’t happen before 7 August, when the loan window closes, it will have helped us to get in shape and have the satisfaction of feeling good and being available to any club that’s willing to give us a chance.
What kind of technical staff and facilities did AFE provide for you?
The technical staff consists of several people: a first and second coach, goalkeepers, physiotherapists, a physical trainer who’s been working for Watford for two seasons, a goalkeeping coach... a complete, high-quality technical team. We train on fantastic training pitches, with superb grass, and then there’s the hotel and the food... They are first-division facilities. It’s spectacular. We’re delighted with the experience and the opportunities it’s giving us.
And what kind of support has AFE given you?
They are very good at giving players close support. It’s a union run by footballers for footballers. There are agreements with a lot of sponsors for things like dental clinics, podiatry for insoles and foot tests, scholarships, sports equipment such as boots or goalkeeper gloves. The people in AFE have been footballers and lacked certain services during their playing career and now what they want is for us to have everything we need for our career.
“AFE are very good at giving players close support. It’s a union run by footballers for footballers. ”— by Carlos Indiano
You’re waiting for offers to play again. Now that you are over 30, do you start thinking about transition after retirement?
I want to play for as long as I have the enthusiasm, until my body says enough is enough. But I’m combining it with working as a coach. I was with a team of 8-year-olds and I really enjoyed it. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it because of the question of being patient with the kids and knowing how to speak to them kindly, because you can make a big mark on a kid’s career at a young age if you express yourself in a certain way. But it worked out well and I would like to do it. I also have levels one and two of the coaching qualification here in Spain. There are three levels for professional football, and I would like to get the last one so as to open that door as well.