Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has vowed he will not quit Spain, despite coming under fire from fans in recent matches, but says he will still wish the worst to fierce rivals Real Madrid.
The Catalan defender was booed in Spain’s 2-0 win over Slovakia last Saturday and international team-mate Sergio Ramos told reporters earlier this week that his remarks on Madrid made back in June “do not help him”.
Pique mocked Madrid during Barca’s treble celebrations as he made reference to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 30th birthday party in February, which took place just hours after Real had lost 4-0 to Atletico – and rumours suggested on Thursday that he may step down from Spain duty altogether following the boos.
But at a specially arranged press conference to discuss his situation, the 28-year-old said: “Quitting the national team is the last thing I would do. That would be giving in to those who whistle for the wrong reasons.”
The defender went on to discuss the jeers he has been subjected to by some Spain fans and says he believes it has nothing to do with his support for Catalunya.
“I think they [Spain fans] whistle me because of the Barca-Madrid rivalry,” he said. “But I won’t change. The rivalry is passionate and when one team is doing well, the other is doing badly. So let’s hope things go as badly as possible for Real Madrid. And those who don’t like it will have to put up with me until I retire!
“I love Barcelona, but that doesn’t stop me having a fantastic relationship with the Real Madrid players. Iker [Casillas] sent me flowers when my second child was born and I told him I hoped they would let in four [against Atletico] – and they went and let in four the next day. We still talk about that!
“I watched the Madrid-Juve game with a [Gianluigi] Buffon shirt on. I want Madrid to lose always. I love my club and nobody should expect me to change or ask for forgiveness.”
And he added: “When I get booed by Madrid fans at the Bernabeu, it is like music to my ears!”
Asked about Ramos, he said: “Our relationship now is better than it has been at any time since I made by debut with the national team. It was a little cold to start with, but the other night 10 or 11 of us got together in Iker’s room and Sergio and I spoke about lots of things.”
The controversial comments made by the Madrid man earlier this week were interpreted by some as hanging Pique out to dry, but the Catalan centre-back said: “He defended me before the game. Then in the mixed zone things go quickly and you say whatever. We get on really well. He’s a great player and I feel very comfortable playing alongside him.
“My commitment to the national team is total.”