Having taken a step out into the relative unknown, Jordi Amat is a player of multi-disciplined talents. A solid force as a consistent defender, he's also a made a name for himself in the gaming world. Four years a Premier League player and still plenty to give, we sat down with him to get to know a bit about what makes him tick.
Having gone from La Liga to the Premier League ― arguably the two best leagues in the world ― is there a big difference between the two?
"Yes, for me, the best league in the world is the Premier League. It’s so tough, every game is difficult and that is why I think the Premier League is that little bit harder."
Do you like the adventure that football has been able to give you? What was it like moving from Spain to the UK?
"It was a big challenge for me, coming here I didn’t know a lot of English so that was the first challenge for me. But yeah, it’s been a great challenge and I’ve been here for four years now and I love it. To play here was a great step for me and one I’ve embraced."
When the call first came from Swansea when you were in Spain, can you remember your first reaction?
"Well, it was a fantastic feeling. At the time I was playing for Rayo Vallecano in Madrid and Laudrup called me and I was just so nervous. Everything was good and I spoke to Laudrup a few times over the phone which for me was just an amazing feeling. It was great."
Your rise in the gaming world with Call of Duty is pretty impressive. Can you tell us where that began?
"I’ve been playing Call of Duty all of my life I guess but I really started with my brother about ten years ago. We were eighth in the world at one point. We were playing so good and said to each other, “OK, here’s the target, let’s get to the top ten” and for one month we held that position which was good fun!"
Have you been big into computer games or was it something relatively new?
"The first console I had was the Playstation One, the grey one that everyone remembers. I played games like Crash Bandicoot ― that was one of my favourites."
The demands of training and being in a Premier League team must be quite intense ― is gaming your release and a chance to unwind?
"Yeah absolutely, I think it’s the perfect way to disconnect. I’m not playing everyday but if I can play a few hours with my friends here and there, it’s great. It’s a good help to clean your head."
What do you make of the world of online FIFA stars ― would you like to be one of them?
"Well, I think it’s another world you know. All these people on YouTube have been working hard to get the results they do on their channels and for me, I’m just starting out really and it’s just for fun. It’s a nice hobby in the same way Call of Duty is for me. We’ll see what we can do and where it goes."
Naturally, playing on the pitch comes with a lot of travel ― do a lot of games take place when you’re on the team bus or in your hotel?
"There’s a few guys on the team who like to play FIFA on the bus with their portable Playstations but I play more Call of Duty and it’s difficult to play one vs one on the bus. Sometimes when we go on the road we’ll take the PS4 and have some games which is fun."
Who’s your biggest gaming competitor in football?
"Angel Rangel is a really competitive guy. We compete all day, with everything ― on the pitch, off the pitch with the smallest of things, we just play each other all the time. He played Black Ops 3 quite a bit last year. I was better of course! But it is good fun to have someone like him around."
Going back to the pitch, how exciting is it for you to be playing out every kids dream out there on a Saturday?
"Everyday, everyday. I love playing football ― I live for it. I’m very grateful to be able to do it everyday and it’s amazing. I get to do the thing I love and it’s important for me to keep training hard so that I can play as many games as I can."
Has your perception of the game in the Premier League changed since you've been here?
"In the start it was really hard because you have to show to everyone that you’re up to the standard and that you can play here when you’re not English or not from here in Wales. They have to get to know you. The first year I was here with Laudrup and he was a big help for me with the adjustment. You just have to keep doing your job to the best of your ability everyday and that’s a challenge of course but that’s the life in football. You’ve got to do your best every day and looking back, I’ve been here four years now which is great. The fans are always so good and we’ve done OK every year so if we can keep that up then things will be positive."
What are the pressures like for a Premier League player in Swansea on a day to day basis?
"Ultimately we live for this and it was my dream from when I was so young, to be able to play at the top level. So now that I’m there I’ve got to enjoy it and with that, I have to make the most of the pressure. I love to play in the tough games against the top teams. That’s me ― I want to play with pressure."
You’ve shown a lot of strength at the back and have done well to earn so many appearances for the club. Is there one moment that sticks out as a personal highlight throughout your career?
"I’m lucky to say that there are a few that stand out. My first game was when I was 17 years old. That was amazing for me, for my family and for my friends. I remember this day really well because no one expected me to play being that young but because the team had so many injuries, I had the opportunity with Pochettino. It was a great night and I remember it well ― it was the 24th January 2010. That was a good time with good memories."
Have you enjoyed being able to visit all the stadiums you have played in over here? You must have seen the likes of Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge on TV when you were growing up.
"The one thing that everyone said to me when I was coming over here was that the stadiums are always full, the people are so friendly and it’s great to play here and I’m glad to say it’s true. It’s amazing to play in the stadiums with such an atmosphere, wherever you go in any stadium, it’s an amazing feeling to step out onto the pitch. It’s great for the league and the country."
Who are the hardest strikers you’ve had to face?
"I think it’s true that some of the best strikers in the world are here. I think one of the hardest that I’ve played against was actually Andy Carroll. He’s a very tough player to play against, he’s tall and strong and very good with the ball so yeah I’d say here’s up there with the hardest I’ve played against. I enjoy that challenge."
Who is the best all round player you’ve played against?
"There have been so many to be honest. Both on my team or against, players like Wilfried Bony was amazing and then every day I get to enjoy playing with Gylfi Sigurdsson ― he’s a top player and performs at his best every day which is great to see. We have a lot of top players here. One of the best over my career was De la Peña at Espanyol. I got the opportunity to train with him and he was just amazing."
You’ve been with Swansea now for a few seasons. What was it like landing in a new city like this?
"It was hard. It was a new city and most of the time it is raining. The weather isn’t the greatest when you’ve grown up with sun but you have to adapt to these kind of things. With the help of my wife and the people around me, that’s easy."
Are there any home comforts that you miss from Spain that you’ve been able to enjoy over here?
"Yeah, I’ve got some restaurants here that I like to go to and things like that but I’m a guy that likes to stay in so with TV series’ or Call of Duty. That’s when I’m most relaxed so really I’m comfortable here."
Have you been able to experience what life is like in the UK - ever had a fish and chips or enjoyed a Sunday roast dinner?
"Yes, I love fish and chips, I love turkey, I love Christmas dinner, Christmas eve and everything that comes with that! It’s nice to experience things like this and be in a different country and to know all these things. To enjoy it with family and friends too, it’s very special. I’m always trying to invite friends over so they can experience it too."
Back to the football ― if there’s one thing you’d like to achieve over the next few years in your playing career, what would that be?
"Well, when I was so young, I played in the national team with other players who were friends and at the time we all said that the dream was to play in the Champions League. That’s one thing I’d really like to achieve. Any game, anywhere, I’d love to go through that and have that as a memory."