At Home With: West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta
In the latest entry of our series, West Ham full-back Pablo Zabaleta discusses how he's spending his time since the Premier League season was put on hold.
How are you continuing to do your job despite working from home?
It is difficult because when we go to the training ground we have enough space to do everything - stretching, the gym, all the machines that we need.
Then we go out on the field, we touch the ball, use the ball, passing, shooting, games. You need your team-mates, you need the competition.
Now it seems like all we can do is go out and do a 30-minute run in the park on your own. It's not the same.
When I've got my time in the afternoon when the kids are having a siesta then I'm trying to do my exercise and do all the stretching.
What sort of work are you doing given we don’t know when the season will return?
It's difficult when you wake up every day thinking "when are we going to come back to training again?"
I try to do an hour and a half of exercise to keep myself fit.
It's going to be hard to go back and play games this season because we've had a month of no football. To play a game in good condition you need at least two or three weeks of full training sessions and all that.
But at the same time I'm thinking of doctors, nurses, people in the front line, and about those people who are losing their loved ones.
At the moment we cannot be selfish and we need to wait and see when is the right time to be back, to train and play games.
How are you keeping in contact with players and staff?
We have a WhatsApp group and send videos. We have conversations by phone with the lads.
Last week I spoke with Mark Noble just to have a conversation and to hear from the captain, what he feels about the situation, how he's coping at home as well.
But when you hear from some of the players, we all feel the same - that we can't wait to go back to the training ground and see each other again, because I feel we're all missing football.
How are you using this time to hone your skills?
When I have some time when the kids are sleeping I've been on my laptop trying to watch some training sessions on the internet.
I've been reading about football – one of my friends in Argentina sent a lot of books about football and tactics from different managers.
What’s the thing you miss most about football?
I miss the emotions. I think it's all about the emotion in football.
When you feel something in your belly before the game, when you win a game and you feel great, when you lose and you feel sad and angry, but then you go back to training and mentally you prepare again - this is what I really miss.
Now I wake up and because we're not going to play at the weekend I just feel the same every day. I don't really feel those very high or low emotions at all.
You need to feel pressure and that adrenaline.
I'm just trying to enjoy my time with my kids.
I try to help them with their homework, we're doing painting. When I'm doing exercise at home, cycling and stretching, my son is next to me trying to do the same.
How are you passing the time without any football to watch?
I'm just trying to enjoy my time with my kids.
I try to help them with their homework, we're doing painting. When I'm doing some exercise at home, cycling and stretching and all this, my son is next to me trying to do the same.
It’s something we need to enjoy as a family. It is quite tough because it's 24 hours together and the kids are sometimes tired, they want to go out, they want to run and have fun.
But we have to be positive in those moments.
Any TV shows/films/books you’d recommend?
I just finished the Spanish series La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) with my wife.
But Netflix comes after dinner when the kids are sleeping and it's the only time me and my wife have some time to sit on the sofa and relax.
From 7 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock in the evening there’s not much time for us.
Have you discovered any new interests or hobbies since the football stopped?
My son loves guitar, and I play some guitar also so we're trying to play and sing every day.
Have there been any positives that have come from the football stopping?
I'm trying to enjoy my time with the kids because in football for many years I've been travelling and playing games.
Even when I'm in preseason I’m away from home for a month, and I see my kids crying when I'm saying goodbye to them and they're not going to see me again for a long time.
So I'm thinking of those moments now when I have the opportunity to spend the whole day with them.
Have you learned anything about yourself?
I cannot live without football.
This is something I've realised in three or four weeks, which is quite tough, because this is a routine that we have been doing for years – 17 years for me now.
For me, I'm 35, probably very close to retirement. I'm just getting used to this.
Knowing for a long time I will be doing this, running on my own, trying to keep myself fit. It's not the same.
What has the break made you realise you love most about football?
Now that I have been a month without football it made me appreciate how much I love my profession and how lucky I have been to have had a chance to play football.
I'm thinking about all those people losing their jobs or who have been in tough situations with this pandemic and that's why I appreciate how lucky I am to be a footballer.
When you see the news, people just putting their lives on the line to save people's lives, this is something that as a footballer you appreciate.
I feel like we are very lucky people to do what we really enjoy the most.