Pepe sees the side that claimed Real Madrid’s 11th European Cup as going down in history but also looked back on some unsavoury incidents.
The Portugal international has been interviewed by Marca almost a week after victory over Atletico Madrid in Milan, the second Champions League he has won with Los Blancos.
“I think we’ve entered the history of the club. We’ve added a little more to it. Those who have followed Madrid longer know what it means to wear this shirt, the requirement involved. It was important to win to enter the club’s history,” he said.
“The most decisive thing in the final was to be a team, and we were. The Champions League is very important to all of us. But we knew the final would be very difficult. We could only beat Atletico on penalties because they are a great team, as we all know. Their strength is teamwork, but we’re equal to that on a mental level.
“That was the first time I’ve cried on the pitch. All the sacrifice through the season, the whole fight, it was in the hands of five guys [who took the penalties]. I had to take one I would have. When we win, we all win.
“We have to analyse the season. We didn’t start well, Barcelona and Atletico started to gain points on us in the League, but we never stopped. We didn’t surrender, we gave 100% in La Liga and that’s what allowed us to reach the Champions League Final. It’s true that in the Copa del Rey we couldn’t fight for the reasons we all know, but we knew we had to keep fighting in the League to go well in the Champions League.
“We understood that and we also cut the points to Barca and Atletico. We reached the last game with the option of being champions. And took that credit to the Champions League Final. We’ve worked very hard to achieve this title. Despite all the difficulties at the beginning, we fought, we’ve sacrificed, we’ve shown our face. It all added up to make us stronger at the end of the season.”
Pepe has though had some difficult times in his Madrid career and touched on one in detail, his altercation with Getafe’s Javi Casquero in 2009, when he kicked out at the prone midfielder.
“This compensates for all the bad times. People make mistakes. I’ve always recognised my mistakes, like Casquero. It hasn’t happened again, thank God, because I said if it did I didn’t deserve to play for Madrid,” he acknowledged.
“But these things can happen. You can have a bad day. I recognised I failed, I apologised at the time. And it made me a better player. I began to make fewer mistakes, I had to adapt to a new reality that a lot of people were looking at me. But I never stopped giving everything for Madrid. People in the end value that sacrifice.”