Raul Albiol has reflected on his motivation to join Napoli, a difficult final few months with Real Madrid and his gratitude towards Vicente del Bosque.
The 28-year-old made the move out to Serie A this summer, after four years in the Spanish capital, to join Rafa Benitez at the Stadio San Paolo.
Reflecting on the decision to move out to Italy, the defender has admitted that his enthusiasm for the game has returned.
“Absolutely. I am back to enjoying the confidence of the Coach, the tension of the games, it is what satisfies you as a professional,” Albiol told El Pais this week.
“[Completing the move] took no time, in a few days we arranged everything. It was easy to decide – it was Benitez, they had already signed Callejon, they had a project and Naples has always been a city for football.
“Well, I do not know why it is, but the passion that they follow their team with I have never seen. And it is not just any team. Maradona wore that shirt!
“Benitez’s influence? I didn’t talk to the Coach until I was taking the medical. But I have known him for years, in fact I made my debut at Valencia with him, in his final year, against AEK Solna in the UEFA Cup.”
Albiol’s final year with Madrid saw him rarely feature under Jose Mourinho.
“I didn’t ask for explanations when I played and did not expect them when I was not playing. With Mourinho there was never a bad relationship, I always got along with him. That is normal with my boss.
“The last three months at Madrid were unpleasant, because we lost the League, we were eliminated from the Champions League and lost the Copa del Rey Final.
“Maybe last year was the worst in respect of the dressing room atmosphere, but I will stick with the good and my relationship with Mourinho was normal.
“No we did not go to dinner together, but neither with Quique Sanchez Flores did I do that!”
Albiol had his say on Mesut Ozil’s sale to Arsenal on the last day of the transfer window.
“Yes, it was unexpected. I head that Di Maria had offers and could leave, and the same with Coentrao, but with Ozil nothing came until the last moment.
“And if you look at his quality…I do not know. I guess they have their reasons.”
Despite Albiol’s struggles for game-time, he has remained a regular in Vicente del Bosque’s national squad and is expected to start tonight against Finland.
“I am very happy that I have always had the trust of Del Bosque. For him it has been easier not to call me and he has had criticism for it.
“He perfectly could have stopped calling me, but it generated a responsibility in me, so I tried to live up to it.
“If you believe in yourself up until that point then you can return that confidence shown. Now it will be much easier, but I appreciate his support because he has given me a lot.
“The record [of 40 wins with Spain from his 41 appearances] is not down to me, that is down to the team, and the coaching staff.
“Mine is by chance, having experienced the best moment of the national team, and I am proud to be a part of this group.”