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'Football brought me to Valencia'

Alex Dunham · 15 Mar 2013, 18:42

Published: 15 Mar 2013 18:42 GMT+01:00

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Where are you from originally?
I'm from Jersey, in the Channel Islands. I think I must be the only person from Jersey in the whole of Valencia!
So how did you end up in Valencia?
The shortest possible answer is football. I did an International Masters in Performance Analysis of Sport, which was split between Magdeburg (Germany), Cardiff and Valencia. The market for football analysts in the UK was saturated and through a contact I was able to get my foot in the door at Valencia Football Club.
You must be a die-hard football fan.
I'm a Red (Liverpool fan) through and through. I actually chose to study at Chester University so I could go to the games at Anfield.  
Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to work for them or for another big club in Europe, but right now I’m very happy at Valencia FC.  
I’m growing professionally, and who wouldn't love the lifestyle here? Sorry to say it, but it’s better than Liverpool’s. 
What's life like in Valencia compared to the UK then?
Everyone just seems a lot happier. I guess it's all down to the weather, you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee with friends for most of the year. Over in England, you'll be lucky if you can do that a few times every year. 
The city itself is aesthetically very beautiful, full of palm trees and the beaches, of course.
How about the food?
I've actually put on a bit of weight since I've lived here. It's all that rice and noodles you get in Valencia paella and fideuà. I blame my friends who run a takeaway called La Mareta just in front of my place in Benimaclet neighbourhood.
So are all your friends Spanish?
I have a mixture really: some English, Spanish, Moroccan. I've made a lot of friends through playing football.
Where's the best neighbourhood to go out in?
I don't really have the chance to go out because I work at weekends but Carmen is a really lively corner of the city. It's near the centre and packed full of bars and restaurants.
How about your favourite restaurant? 
It's got to be La Pata Negra, in my neighbourhood Benimaclet. Good value and weird, retro decor.
Where do you take friends and family who come to visit you?
The City of Arts and Sciences, full of futuristic buildings that look as if they're straight off the set of Star Wars. There's also an amazing aquarium called L'Oceanogràfic.
Oh, and Mestalla of course, Valencia FC's stadium.
Ok, we're itching to know more about this football link. What is it you do for a living?
I'm a perfomance analyst for Valencia FC. I provide detailed reports with stats, videos and graphs about Valencia's opposition to coach, Ernesto Valverde.
Sounds complex. How do you go about it? 
My main job is to make an analysis of our opposition. I follow Real Sociedad (San Sebastián's team) around the country as the side they're facing always plays Valencia two weeks later.
I film the games for the technical team and then use this match and others to make the statistical report. I recently developed this on the I-Pad so the information and graphs are interactive with videos.
Story continues below…
When the footballing calendar allows me to be in the Mestalla (Valencia's stadium) for our home games, I make an analysis during the match and take it to the changing rooms at half time.  
So was it hard to get to where you are now?
Yes, it's been a constant battle to get a full-time position but I couldn't have done it without the help of Jorge Hernández and Juanjo Vila, two other team analysts who promoted me within the club. I guess a defining moment was when I put together a motivational video for the first team before the local derby against Villareal.
We really worked hard on getting the right message across and showed it to the team before the game. We won 5-0. Next day, it was on the cover of sports daily As with the headline 'The secret of the thrashing'.
But its been a constant learning process of trying out new methods and analysis.
Have you met any of your footballing heroes through the job?
Yes, just through sheer luck I met Xavi, Iniesta and Villa when the Spanish national side was training in Las Rozas before the 2010 World Cup.
I got asked if there was anybody else I wanted to meet, and obviously as a Liverpool fan I said Fernando Torres. It was great! He told me he'd just about managed to start to understand Gerrard and Carragher's thick Liverpool accent. 

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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