Adelaide United A-League star Javi Lopez has spoken at length about how different the A-League is from La Liga, while admitting leaving Espanyol was the most difficult decision of his life.
Lopez has spoken at length about the differences between the two countries' approach to football in a frank and honest interview that gives an interesting insight into a Spaniard's experience of the A-League, in a translated interview with Sports Finding.
Lopez says that while he wanted to remain with Espanyol after they were relegated from La Liga last season, he's enjoying his life in Adelaide and the A-League has surprised him in multiple ways.
“I would have given anything to continue one more year at Espanyol," Lopez told the Spanish outlet. “It's my home."
"The level of football in Australia has surprised me a lot. The A-League is packed with super competitive teams.
"They are influenced by Australian football, which is a very contact sport. Soccer is very physical, with back and forth matches and many occasions. The fan enjoys it. They are matches that break very soon.
"The footballer only enjoys it when he wins. A game that ends 5-4 is a spectacle, but if you lose it you will [get] pissed off. They are very intense matches. The A-League is a very nice league and very entertaining to play. You can beat anyone and anyone can beat you.
"Here, the one who enjoys football the most is the fan. The competition is organised to be a real show and the most important are them, the fans. Everything is focused so that match week is an authentic experience.
"They come to training sessions, they see the players up close … On match day you can have dinner in a corner or have a barbecue. There are also activities in the break.
"In Spain, society has led us to protect ourselves. Social media is incendiary. They judge everything and subject footballers to constant public judgment. Athletes have to protect themselves. I think: 'What need do I have to expose myself for an opinion? I expose myself enough when I go out to play. ' I protect myself, but not only myself. Also my family. I don't have the need for anyone to judge me without knowing me. Players live in a bubble because of that."
In addition to the differences between the fans' experience in Australia and Spain, Lopez has spoken about the difference in his personal approach.
"Everything is different here," Lopez continued.
"The culture is different. The show is sought. They fight for the fans to enjoy because they are the ones who maintain the industry. In the A-League, we players give interviews at game breaks. If they catch you, you have to talk.
"In Spain there is the flash interview, which is at the end of the game, but it is unthinkable to see a player speak at half-time. Here you have to do it because the fan needs it. You need to know how the player feels at half-time. And we accept it because we know that we live off the fan.
"I have encountered a language barrier. I try to make myself understood. I do not go around giving advice to those who do not ask me, but I have been through many situations during my career and, if I can help you at any time, I will be there to help."
Lopez also revealed that while leaving Espanyol has weighed heavily on his shoulders, he moved his family here and has been enjoying the lifestyle on offer in Adelaide.
While he still wakes up in the middle of the night to watch Espanyol matches, he says he's "very happy" in Adelaide.
"It was the most difficult moment of my life," Lopez says.
"These things happen in the world of football. You only have to accept it. You cannot do otherwise.
"It has been a very different year. It has been an incredible experience and I am very happy, but I will not deny that I have missed Espanyol in many moments. Espanyol is my club. It is my home. I got up at dawn to watch practically all the games.
"I would have given anything to be there one more year. I miss Espanyol a lot, but football took me to Australia and I am very happy. One thing does not remove the other."