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"I'm falling in love with football again": Valentinos Sielis Interview

league 2021.03.27   I   조회수 398

Regular football and even getting on the scoresheet is enough for Valentinos Sielis to fall in love with football all over again. The Cyrpus international has been tasked with shoring up Busan IPark's defence and helping Ricardo Peres guide the club back to K League 1 at the first time of asking. In an exclusive interview, Valentinos talks about his move, the importance of having family close by, and what it is like to be part of this new Busan project.

Valentinos Sielis arrived in K League in 2017, joining Gangwon FC from AEL Limassol in the Cypriot top flight. After a two year spell with Gangwon, Valentinos is now on his third K League club having joined Busan IPark from Jeju United in the winter and, up until Hana 1Q K League 2 Round 4, played every single minute of the Royals' start to the new campaign.


First of all, it seems like you only play for K League clubs that have got a good beach nearby; Gangneung (Gangwon FC) Jeju and now Busan.

"I think it's my destiny because as we spoke last time, my country's on the beach so yeah, maybe that's my destiny to be near the beach."

How is life in Busan?

"Really good. Especially now with my family being here. We're really enjoying Busan. It's a beautiful city, has a combination of the nature and big city vibes with the beach. So it's great. Last year was a really hard year for me - generally for everyone in the start of the Coronavirus. So having them here is just a boost for me and making me feel more comfortable and we're really really enjoying our time here."


Well, you're back. You're playing regularly even scoring goals - one against Daejeon and it should have been another against Gimcheon - but it must feel very good?

"Yeah. It's always good to be on the score sheet. Especially if your team wins. So yeah, I can't wait to be on the scoresheet again. It was a hard year for me last year, but I learned from every experience, I only keep the good stuff - I learned a lot in Jeju. It's important for me now that I get full support of Busan. And I'm really, really enjoying my time. I'm falling in love with football again. Not like I wasn't in love already, but it was a really hard year for me last year. And they really are helping me here so I'm giving my best so I can give back as much as I can."

So how did the move materialise?

"I had some options outside of Korea, which I didn't want to take because I'm having a really good time here and I consider Korea the paradise of Asia. It feels like home being here and I wouldn't change for another country so easily. So as soon as I got the offer from Busan, it was a great opportunity for me, I just took it without even thinking. On the same day, I flew here, had medical checks, signed and then went back to pack my stuff."

How would you assess the start to the season from your new team's point of view?

"Well, like our coach (Ricardo Peres) is saying all the time, we're starting a new team. There's a combination of some older players and more experienced with a lot of young players and he's trying to build something new - when you make a new project it is hard, there's ups and downs. We lost on the first game, even though we had a good game, we didn't do that bad and then just suddenly we collapsed. That's the time we need to prepare our new team. But I'm very positive, we have very good players, young and older players who have more experience. And I think what we are building here is going to be positive in the future. And I'm pretty sure we will succeed."

What do you think that what you think the team is good at the strength of the team?

"Well, we have a certain strategy. We are trying to do whatever the coach asks us in different games, because all the time we change our strategy, depending on the opponent. So we were always adapting to the opponent and I think our team will show its true character, and maybe in the second half of the season, you will see the real power of the team, because game by game, I think will become much better."

Obviously, then you won against Daejeon. But then there was that 4-0 defeat to Chungnam Asan. What went wrong in that game, do you think?

"In games like this, when things are not going your way, I think that's when experience is needed and we could have stepped in a little bit better and controlled the game. But like I said, things like this will happen in teams that prepare and create a project for the future. We are trying to plan something for the next few years. It was a bad game for us, we did some good things, but you cannot lose 4-0 and is something that we are trying to fix. And you see on the next game, we worked on our mistakes, and we won the game against Gimcheon, which is from my personal opinion, one of the best teams in K League 2 so it's a positive start for us."

Was it a relief after that game? 

"Yeah, it was a game, when you come from a defeat of 4-0,  you have to show character in the next game, we knew it was going to be a hard game. But we were playing at home with our fans. And we had to give our best on the pitch. So at the end of the game, when we went in the changing room, everyone was satisfied. Everyone was tired, because we gave our best. Of course, we had some bad moments in the game. But winning the game was our top target and we did it."

And two goals from An Byong-jun - his first goals of the season. Seeing him scoring those two goals and winning the game would have been a huge positive?

"Yeah, he's a great player, and I spoke to him before the game. Because all strikers if you don't score, it brings you more pressure. I spoke to him and told him just to be patient. And when once one goal comes, the second one would come. So I told him he was going to score two goals this game. I'm just happy for him and I think he's going to help our club massively, for sure."

Does it make you more determined to succeed now and really have a good spell with Busan based on the fact that you're making up for lost time?

"For a football player, being out of the games is really hard, then you're having trouble to accept it. And it really brings doubts to yourself and last year I was actually doubting myself: "what am I doing wrong, why am I not playing?" or things like this. But fortunately, the people who were around me at the club helped me a lot, get through it, and especially my wife. When she came over for the last three months, she just gave me so much power to keep going. And the physical coach of Jeju (Rondon), he was actually helping me a lot to maintain my strength not only physically but mentally also. 

"I have nothing to prove. I'm just a professional player who plays whenever they need him. We have to be ready and accept what the coaches decide for us. And like I said, only 11 players can play so the coach has a hard time to decide. We players have to respect it and accept what the coach wants. Because if you don't accept it, then you don't respect your teammates who are playing in your position."

And what is the coach like to work with?

"I'm having a great time here. Really. Like I said, I fell in love with football again. And I feel like I'm 20 years old. The trainings are really good. He brought something from Europe. So we are working European style, high intensity, not very long time training. So everyone is happy here. The club is working really professionally, everyone is working like a team. Generally, not just the football players, the staff and everyone who's part of Busan. And we created like a big family here. So I'm really, really grateful to be here."

You've been in Korea for a few years. You speak a little bit of a language as well. Have you tried to help him settle in and has he looked to you for advice about certain things?

"He knows that I've been here for a long time so he asked me my opinion on some stuff. But he has a lot of experience about this because he's been with [Paulo] Bento, the national team coach. And I'm sure he knows a lot of things about Korea, he must have told him also a lot of things. But he's really adapting. I think all the players here accepted him because he's a great person and a very good coach. And we're just giving our best to show what the coach wants to do on the pitch."

Paul Neat
Managing Editor