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‘Should aim for Champions League next year’

Though barely 22, Sergio Leonel Aguero del Castillo of Atletico Madrid and Argentina is performing at a very high level. Patrick Wong reports.

sports Updated: Dec 16, 2010 01:21 IST
Patrick Wong
Patrick Wong
Hindustan Times

Though barely 22, Sergio Leonel Aguero del Castillo of Atletico Madrid and Argentina is performing at a very high level.

But something tells us this free-flowing attacker still could get a lot better. Just because he wants to. And time is on the side of this striker who joined Atletico in 2006.

Sergio, next to your obvious class, you also bring an unprecedented work ethic to the table. That is probably what people respond to, why they perceive you as a hero.
(Nods). In my opinion that is the least you can do as a professional footballer; give everything you’ve got - from the first second you step onto the pitch to the last one till you leave it

Is that something you have always had?
Well, I have always been a football enthusiast, perhaps even a football fanatic. When I was a kid, me and my football were inseparable. When you saw me, you also saw the ball. And the other way around. But my fighting spirit clearly got an extra boost from the moment I debuted as a professional.

You were so young, 15 years and 35 days even breaking the record of Diego Maradona (his father-in-law) for being the youngest player at the highest level in Argentina. Could you please tell us something about that experience?
Sure. I played for Independiente and as you know Argentian defenders can play very tough, but me, such a young boy, they even tried to tackle me a lot harder. Pure intimidation. Then and there I not only learned to dodge tackles and also to always stay in motion, but also to dish it out myself a bit too.

Winning the Europa League last season must have felt like heaven.
It was. I cannot even start to describe the emotions I felt. This was a fantastic reward for all the hard work we had put in as a team. And at the beginning of the season, winning the European Super Cup to Inter proved we are not a one-day fly.

How can you top that?
With the quality we have, the hunger and the desire, we should certainly try to reach the final again. But for me it is also very important that we try to qualify for the Champions League for the next season.

Which might be even harder that reaching the final of the Europa League again?
Hmm, interesting point of view. Both will be difficult. Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are at an extremely high level. And then there’s Valencia. And also Villareal. But the season is long.

Should we talk about the World Cup in South Africa?
Hmm, not really too much to say, is there? We improved ourselves when you look at the way we played in the qualifiers. But at the World Cup itself we should at last have gone one round further.

Probably, better luck next time. Also, because the Argentine squad is really overflowing with talent, and you all know each other so well. Do you think 2014 will see a bigger contribution from you?
Absolutely. You can count on that. Time is clearly on my side. Watch La Liga live on Ten Action

First Published: Dec 16, 2010 01:15 IST