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“If we don’t want the health care collapse to be repeated, we must be responsible and adhere to the regulations”

In-depth interview with Doctor Juan Carlos Pérez-Frías, an iconic player with CD Málaga and head of the Club’s Medical Services for the last three decades.

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16/05/2020 11:57

“A part of this shield belongs to the Pérez-Frías brothersread a banner placed by the ‘Fondo Sur 1904’ at La Rosaleda Stadium, on 24th May 2019, in homage to the Pérez-Frías family in the run-up to #MálagaRealZaragoza last season. With Nacho always in mind, we find out more about Juan Carlos…

Doctor, you’ve been at the Club for a lifetime…

When you begin a certain stage in your life, you know when it starts, but it’s very difficult to determine when it will come to an end. I was born in Madrid, we moved to Málaga when I was 14 and, four years later, I was playing for Atlético Malagueño. You never think, I mean you could count on one hand the number of people who have spent their entire lives at one club. I don’t regret it, it always has been and continues to be a wonderful, and important stage in my life. I hope I’ve got many years left.

Your best and worst moment, Juan Carlos.

In the world, as in life, we tend to remain with all the good times and erase the bad. It’s the same in football. Bad times? The relegations…A very tough moment was the disappearance of Club Deportivo Málaga, which officially took place on 27th July 1992. Coinciding with my birthday. It was a sad time for me and all the people of Málaga. Another painful time was the way in which Málaga was eliminated from the Champions League, but our memories remain with all the good times before that. Having played in the Champions was something totally unthinkable for any Malagueño, we never thought that moment would arrive. The end was tough, but everything else was amazing.

The best things are the promotions, above all because of the immense joy they bring and how happy they make the fans of the team.

The feeling is everyone loves the Pérez-Frías family.

Basically, we are 12 siblings and all cut from the same cloth. Many people have said to me I’m just like my brother Nacho, or my brother Javi, or Pedro, or Miguel. That’s how we are. There’s two people to blame for this, and that’s my mum and dad. The whole Pérez-Frías family is cut from the same cloth, and if people love us, that’s wonderful.

What is the Malaguista feeling?

I’ve been lucky to have two families. One, as we spoke about before, is my personal family. And my other family has been Club Deportivo Málaga and Málaga Club de Fútbol. My Malaguista feeling well… saying it’s my other family says it all.

Do you feel like you’re from Madrid, or are you a Malagueño?

I always say I’m a Madrileño by birth and Malagueño by adoption. I lived in Madrid until I was 14 and have spent the rest of my life here in Málaga. You are always appreciative of the place where you were born, but I think where you grow up and where you are shaped as a person is more important. I will never deny Madrid, but my Málaga is now my Málaga. I’ve made my life here, and all the important things in my life are here. Both as a player and as a medical professional. I have three Malagueño children and my wife is from Ronda, and they are the ones who have given my life meaning.

There are a few doctors in your family, right?

We were four, now we’re three. It’s curious that in my family there was no history of doctors. The first doctor in my family was my elder brother Javier, then there was Nacho, my sister María José and me. The four of us are the doctors in the family.

Football has given you many friends. And if we talk about your brother Nacho…

The problem with mentioning names is that when you’ve spent your whole life in football, you’re sure to forget a few. There have been different stages in my life, almost all of them have been wonderful, surrounded by a lot of people. Both as a player, at the time when we were practically all from Málaga, and afterwards as a doctor.

There are many acquaintances in the world of football, but not as many friends. Of course, there was my brother. We played together, lived through everything together, not just football, but also medicine, it’s something that united us a lot.

It feels strange to ask this but…have you ever had an enemy in football?

Yes, I will say one name, not because he’s an ‘enemy’, but because of the world of football. It was the coach that moved me up from Atlético Malagueño to Club Deportivo Málaga, Mirolad Pavic. I was supposed to be grateful for him moving me up to the first team, but after I’d moved, I didn’t even play on Thursdays in the training matches. It was something I didn’t understand, and he was one of the few coaches who, not that he took away my desire to play as I had two great passions, medicine and football, but at that time I dedicated more of my time to studying than playing football, as I wasn’t getting the games.

Medicine, science…do you believe in anything else, ‘doc’?

My parents were Catholics and taught us about their beliefs. Then you grow up, discover life and develop your own ideas. However, there’s no doubt that what you’re taught when you’re young and how you live, makes more of a mark.

The last one, Juan Carlos. In your experience and with your knowledge, COVID-19, could it have been anticipated?

If you look back at headlines, you find people saying that the next big problem for humanity wouldn’t be a third world war, it would be a pandemic. But this was certainly not expected by anyone. The only thing this has done is to make us reflect a little and see how important life is. If someone told you three months ago that you wouldn’t be able to leave your home for two months because of a pandemic, you wouldn’t have believed it.

We must be aware that, if we don’t want last month’s health care collapse to be repeated, we must be responsible, adhere to the regulations and wait a little longer to discover more about this virus and its behaviour. A vaccine will be found, treatments will be improved, and this will be a bad, bad, bad memory which in some way will mark us all.

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