Catch the former footballer at Dubai Mall
In Dubai on Tuesday? Former Spanish footballer Luis Garcia will be. Pop along to the opening of The Official Liverpool FC Store at Dubai Mall, with Garcia present from 7pm-8pm, to see him cutting the ribbon, then hang around for a special in-store signing and photographs.
Garcia played for Liverpool from 2004-07. He’ll even pose with a replica of the 2004-05 UEFA Champions League Trophy, which was won by Liverpool during that time. The store is opening in partnership with The Bootroom Collection, so you can also pick up autographs, shirts of favourite players, photos and more, as well as current merchandise.
We spoke to Garcia ahead of his visit:
So you’re in Dubai to open The Official Liverpool FC store. Have you been to the city before?
Yes, I’ve been before, but it’s been a while, and the city keeps changing. I’m so excited to be back again.
What are your impressions of the store? Does it bring back memories?
The store looks fantastic, and yes, it does bring back great memories – particularly the corner with the memorabilia and other special pieces.
Your time with Liverpool was actually quite short, just three years. What is it like for you looking back?
My time at Liverpool was perfect. I gave everything on the pitch, and we had three amazing years. I’m so proud of being part of the LFC history and honoured to still be able to represent the club at events like this.
It was Rafael Benitez, the manager at the time, that brought you over in 2004 – is it true you weren’t aware of the club much before that? How did he convince you?
Back then, you couldn’t watch as many games as you can now. I knew about Liverpool FC after the Europa League final against [Spanish team] Alavés, and followed the team from then, but it was Rafa who introduced me to the history of the club and the meaning of being part of it.
He actually brought over quite a few Spanish players at the same time – was it nice to have a little community?
It was good, and it helped us to adapt to the different culture, language and weather. But it was important to us from the beginning not to stay in a group, and we used to spend lots of time with all the players.
Is it true you found the Premier League games more physical than what you were used to?
The Premier League is tougher than La Liga, and for a player like me it wasn’t easy to adapt. It did take me a while to bring my best football, but I received a lot of help and support from Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypiä and Jamie Carragher.
The Liverpool fans really liked you – they even gave you your own chant…
Yes, Liverpool FC supporters are amazing, and they gave me the best gift a player can have – their support and a brilliant song. I feel so proud that even today, they still sing, “Garcia, he drinks sangria.”
You left Liverpool in 2007 before your five-year contract was up – do you wish you could have stayed longer?
I decided to leave because at that moment I thought it was the best decision. Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you learn.
What do you think of how the team is doing currently?
The team is currently on amazing form. They’re so confident and balanced. The consistency is there, and so then are the results. Big things are coming.
You represented Spain as well, in the years before the team became so dominant in the sport. Did it feel at the time that things were changing?
In the 2006 World Cup [when Garcia played], the team didn’t do as expected, but you could see the transition. On the qualification for Euro 2008, we suffered, but we arrived full of confidence. A young team, hungry for trophies.
What do you think of there being a Liverpool store in Dubai? Will you be catching up with any fans here during your visit?
Of course. Our visits are always about meeting the fans. We’ll be doing the big opening and meeting lots of supporters. Hopefully, they will have a great time and we’ll share some iconic moments of the Liverpool FC history with them.
The Official Liverpool FC Store is located on the ground floor of Dubai Mall, Unit 124, opposite Yo Sushi. Luis Garcia will be there on Tuesday, January 24, from 7pm-8pm.