March 15, 2017
England is a tough place to play football. From the ultimate standard of the Premier League to the consistently competitive and unpredictable Championship, and throughout League One and Two, there are few better countries to ply your trade in the professional game.
That’s why the top players flock from all over the world to prove themselves on these shores. Three of those players, Manchester City’s Jesus Navas (Spain), Everton’s Kevin Mirallas (Belgium) and Queens Park Rangers’ Massimo Luongo (Australia), sat down with Bleacher Report recently to discuss their experiences so far.
Bleacher Report: First of all, how would you describe your playing style?
Jesus Navas: I’m a pacey player, I like to get forward and create danger, that would be my asset.
Kevin Mirallas: I’m a fast player, I like to play with the ball. To some people I’m a winger, but I prefer playing central striker. I like to score goals, make assists, but I’ve played for five years now in the Premier League and I think it’s the place for me.
Massimo Luongo: I’d say I’m a box-to-box midfielder, I just like getting involved in it all, off the ball, on the ball. I like to control the midfield, again, on and off the ball, have a grip on the other midfielders and lead the midfield just from the way I play.
B/R: Are there any particular parts of your game you’d like to improve?
JN: Obviously you can always improve as a player, you can get better day by day and that’s what we work for. Perhaps scoring a few more goals would be something, but I’m always thinking about creating things and causing danger.
KM: When I came to England I didn’t like to tackle, and it’s not easy sometimes but now I work hard and I’m very happy to play in the Premier League. It’s a hard league, but now I’m very comfortable in this league and now I received a couple of red cards so I think it’s OK now.
ML: Yeah goalscoring is a big one, every midfielder wants to score, be like the Frank Lampards and the Steven Gerrards, that’s probably the biggest one. And yeah just, probably in the final third, if you can nail that you can get to the top.
B/R: Who were your footballing heroes growing up?
JN: I always thought about Luis Figo as a player who I looked up to, the way he crossed the ball, the way he created danger, and he got involved in attacks as well. That’s something I always looked at when he was playing and I was in my youth.
KM: It’s my daddy. He used to say, “In football the most important is not the talent, you need to enjoy every time when you come on to the pitch, you need to enjoy.” My father gave me the taste and pleasure of football and now I have a fantastic chance: out of my passion, I do my job. What else?
ML: Gerrard for me, Paul Scholes was a big one, obviously growing up in Australia I think Diego Maradona is the biggest name there.
B/R: How have you found the experience of playing professionally in England so far?
JN: I’m really happy. Obviously I’m a big family man and that’s been important in my stay in Manchester. I love the speed of the game here, the way that each fan enjoys; and they really live each moment and in each game, so that’s something that I enjoy.
KM: When I was young I used to say to my daddy that I wanted to play in LaLiga. I don’t know why, but then I came to Everton, and I said to my manager I think it’s the best club and the best league for me and for my football, and now I’m very happy to be here. It’s a fast league and a strong league, and it’s the best league in the world, everybody wants to play here. When I go to the national team, some players want to hear some advice and I say, “My friend, this is the best league, I know you play in LaLiga or Italy, but Premier League is the best.”
ML: Tough, really tough, I think the culture of football is hard to adapt to when you first come. In Australia it’s not everywhere you go, only on the back pages, but here it’s talked about all the time. And then just the type of football is so quick, it took a while for me to adapt to it.
B/R: How would you describe your dress style?
JN: It’s difficult to know what to say, I’d say very normal; I just like to wear jeans.
KM: Sometimes I change my fashion style, but it depends on if it’s the morning when I go to training. I go with training kit sometimes, it depends on my mood. When you have sun, rain…but it’s like my skill on the pitch—sometimes I’m crazy, sometimes not.
ML: Every few years, I change slightly. Casual is probably the best word to describe it. I’m not too flashy, just casual. Smart-casual will do nicely, just everyday regardless of where I’m going. Even if I’m going to the gym, I’ll be wearing the same outfit just going to training.
I like collared shirts…wearing a shirt with a different pair of jeans. Like I’ve got one shirt for one specific pair of jeans, and then I’ll buy a new pair of jeans and I’ll need a shirt. So I’ve got loads of shirts—casual shirts. I probably wear them once.
B/R: How do you like your home city in England?
JN: Nothing has changed really because I still do the same things. I still like to go to the cinema, I like to go out for dinner, and I just enjoy spending my time with my wife and my son.
KM: I am very happy. I live in Manchester because when I signed for Everton, I moved to Liverpool and after one month, there was a lot of pressure from the fans of Liverpool and Everton. When I went out, all the time they told me “blah blah blah,” and I didn’t like this; I want to live with my family easily. After that I moved to Manchester, where I enjoy it because this city has a lot of football clubs, but it’s a big city and it’s possible to live with my family easily, which is important.
My favourite part of Liverpool is the stadium, Goodison Park. Where I live in Manchester, there are good restaurants and a good area for kids and my son; for a 10-year-old, enjoying your life is more important than football. I need to enjoy my family because you don’t know what could happen tomorrow.
ML: I love it, I call London my home now. It’s the busyness of it really, places to eat, I like going to restaurants and stuff. I like west London, obviously where QPR play, so I think west London is really nice with a lot of nice parks, I spend a lot of time there.
B/R: What music have you been listening to?
KM: I like R&B, rap, reggaeton, but the last one this morning was French music, French rap. It depends on my mood as well, and sometimes it’s superstition; before the last game in which I scored, reggaeton was on my iPod, so for the next game, it was only reggaeton. But it depends, sometimes.
ML: Ed Sheeran’s new song—that’s gonna be a popular one—both of them actually. Yeah Ed Sheeran’s, “The Shape Of You”? If I’m in the car by myself, I like hip hop and R&B, before a game it’s good. But I like the popular ones on the radio, nothing too heavy.
I did go to a Ne-Yo concert when I first came here, just as a favour to a friend, probably not the best one to go to with a friend but I had to go *laughs*. I enjoyed it, it was good, and like obviously I’m a big fan of his as well.
B/R: Are you any good at FIFA?
JN: I used to play a lot more with my brother, but now I don’t play the game as much.
KM: OK, not bad. The best at Everton is Romelu Lukaku, and me. Ramiro Funes Mori is good, but Romelu is the best.
ML: I’m alright. I play when I go away with the national team, because it’s all we do. I’m banging it out a lot there.
We play a lot of doubles. I’d say I’m a better doubles player than a singles player, I rely on my partner I think—teamwork is a big thing when you’re playing FIFA *laughs* because I’m not the best individually, but I sort of bring the opposition down to my level, then I can compete.
B/R: What about the future, what are your dreams or aspirations with your game?
JN: I think to go on and win more things, and obviously the ultimate would be winning the Champions League.
KM: I don’t know, now I’m very happy and I’d like to sign a new contract with Everton to stay for more here because my wife is pregnant and all our family are happy—I want to stay longer here.
ML: Impose myself a little bit on the international stage, that’s the big one, and just play at the highest level I can for my club. And score more goals.
B/R: Sights are set on the next World Cup maybe?
ML: Yep, that’s what all players like myself…we’ve got to qualify first, and then I think we can do some damage at the World Cup. I think we can make an impression, I think we’re capable.
Massimo Luongo wears the new Typhoon/Tornado New Balance Football Visaro 2.0 boots. To find out more about New Balance Football go to newbalance.com/football or follow @NBFootball on Twitter and Instagram, @nbfootballofficial on Facebook and NB.Football on Snapchat
Jesus Navas and Kevin Mirallas wear the new Alpha Orange/Tornado/Typhoon New Balance Football Furon 2.0 boots. To find out more about New Balance Football go to newbalance.com/football or follow @NBFootball onTwitter and Instagram, @nbfootballofficial on Facebook and NB.Football on Snapchat