Roberto Soldado feels the pressure on his shoulders at Tottenham was ultimately what caused him to fail at White Hart Lane after making his £26 million move.
The 30-year-old striker is battling to rebuild his career at Villarreal after seeing his stock fall during two years in England following his move from Valencia, where he had scored 59 La Liga goals in three seasons.
At Tottenham, he mustered only seven strikes from 52 games in the Premier League before he moved to Villarreal for a reported £10 million at the start of the season.
Ahead of his team’s clash with English opposition – Liverpool – in the Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday, Soldado reflected on what went wrong with Spurs.
“I think in the end what let me down at Tottenham was my head; for whatever reason, it wasn’t right,” he said to the Guardian.
“Perhaps my transfer fee was too big, or maybe the expectations I put on myself put me over the edge in a sense.
“I found I was getting easy chances on the pitch and I would miss them; the tiniest things would go against me.
“My family had not completely adapted either and when things aren’t going perfectly for you professionally and you get home and the family aren’t completely happy either, it’s difficult.
“All these little things – it all mounts up and mounts up until you reach a point when you say ‘I can’t do this any more’. So, last summer, I said ‘I need a change’, because my head was like this.
“I had the chance to come here and start again, which was what I needed – to play where there was not quite as much pressure, where I could work in peace, where the dressing room was down to earth with a desire to grow together, working to achieve something.”
Soldado is confident Villarreal can spring a surprise against Liverpool, despite Jurgen Klopp’s side recording a stunning comeback to beat Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals.
“It’s a historic moment and it’s good that people think Liverpool are favourites, but this is no one-off, it’s not chance,” he added.
“We know it won’t be easy; they’ve improved under Jurgen Klopp. They have great quality in attack. They’re an immense club but we’ve been strong defensively, conceding few at El Madrigal. This season isn’t chance. We have beaten big teams here.
“If we can be successful against Real Madrid, why not Liverpool? It will be very competitive, tight, but we are convinced we can go through.
“Villarreal reached the Champions League semi 10 years ago and although they had a difficult year, going down [in 2012], they came straight back. Since then, we have got into the Europa League twice running and we are trying to return to the Champions League.”
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