Borja Iglesias has had to wait until he was 29 years old to receive the first call of the national teambut he does it with a clean look and the intact illusion of the one who has just arrived.
The path takes him back to the place where it all began, to La Romareda, where he debuted in professional football with Zaragoza. He did not manage to return the team to the First Division, he stayed in the promotion playoff, but his career took off. In the only season he played there he scored 22 goals and earned a transfer to Espanyol.
Since his time at Zaragoza Borja has recognized his growth as a footballer. «I have progressed in different aspects of the game, especially on a mental level, of maturity. I’ve been to different cities, to different clubs and I think that experience has helped me take steps forward and has made me who I am today. I am grateful because I lived my first stage as a professional player and it was very enriching for me », he affirms.
He has also worked to achieve that much-needed mental stability to survive the ups and downs of elite sport. Since then He has the help of a psychologist. «I have been working with Patricia Ramírez and her work team, with María Cabrera, since she was in Zaragoza“, bill. «I have gone through very good stages in which everything was going well and they helped me manage those moments of euphoria or success. Then I have gone through difficult times and they have continued to work with me and help me. The importance [del trabajo psicológico] It is always similar, but there are times when you still need more help to detect those problems that you are not capable of detecting. I think it is the order of the day, I think we have to normalize it and take care of ourselves, both in the good and the bad, “he says.
Those bad moments have been experienced especially in his first time at Betis. After a stint at Espanyol as successful and fleeting as the one he had at Zaragoza, he came to the Verdiblanco team at the hands of Rubi, the same coach who had led him in the Barcelona team. The results were not as expected, Rubi was dismissed and the “Panda”, the nickname with which he has lived for years, only scored three goals throughout the course. Very little for a forward for whom 28 million euros had been paid.
It was the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini that changed everything for him and for the club. The first year, in the 2020/21 season, it was difficult for him to get into the team, but he ended up scoring eleven goals and with Betis qualified for the Europa League. History repeated itself last year, but the performance of the team -which was Cup champion- and Borja, who scored one less goal in the League, but added four goals in the Europa League and five in the Cup, including the only one that Betis scored in the final before penalties.
That performance is what has earned him the call from the coach, who has been following him for years. «I have known Borja since he was at Celta. He played in the subsidiary and already came to train in the last part of the season. He has been doing very well for a long time and is capable of playing for the national team. He has the level to associate, he has a goal, he is physically very powerful », explained Luis Enrique at the time of summoning him. «I like him a lot and I even like his style, always smiling on the pitch. He is a very interesting player and I am very happy that you can come and help me, “he adds.
Borja Iglesias feels at home in the national team. “The people around me are super close and they have made it very easy for me,” he says. He also helps Luis Enrique and Pellegrini be two similar coaches, even if they seem very different. «Manuel is a very calm coach, easy to explain things and convince you of them. And Luis Enrique is exactly the same, but more nervous. They arrive at the same point. They have offensive but different game ideas,” says the last “9” of Spain.