Pollo Olivera: his forced retirement, life in Italy and the “no” to Tabárez that he regrets – Ovation – 04/03/2022

In April 2021, after a match with the FC Aprilia, Ruben “Chicken” OliveraHe returned home with chest pains. He fell asleep, but the discomfort persisted, so much so that he could barely rest. The next morning he went to the hospital and they thought he had had a heart attack, but tests revealed it was something else. Four days later, when he was transferred to Rome To assess him, they discovered that he suffered from a rare disease that swelled an artery. After this diagnosis, he had to leave the professional soccer.

“They found me with a heart problem that I had since I was born and I woke up at the age of 38 last year,” Chicken said. Ovation.

And he added: “It’s something that only happens to one in a million people, very rare, and it happened to me. I’ve been playing football since I was five and never had any problems. But it is a disease that can wake up at any time of life.

However, the team did not let him go: he immediately joined as supervisor of the youth divisions, thanks to the fact that he already had two of the sports licenses necessary to lead in Europe.

Now, almost a year after the forced retirement, he leads the team’s third division, but he is considering new opportunities to continue his coaching life: “I plan for next year to start with the professionals or other teams here in Italy. If I didn’t stay in the third it wouldn’t be a problem, I’m evaluating what are the best options that present themselves,” he explained.

“I took two courses and now I have the final which I have in June, so I have all the permits to work as a professional coach,” he added.

What is clear to him is that his future is in Italy, he established a base there and founded a family. His partner is from Naples, just two hours from Latina – the city in the Lazio region where she stayed – and that was decisive.

“Staying was a lifestyle choice. I was thinking of going to live in Madrid, Spain, but since my family is Italian, we ended up deciding to settle here permanently, because we feel very good in this city where I came because of football”, said he revealed.

Although he managed the possibility of returning, at least in his last years in Uruguay, the situation did not prosper.

“Two years ago, I thought about going back and retiring in Danube. It was the last time I spoke with them, just before starting with Latina and he was fit enough to continue playing. It was what I wanted, but due to a family problem, the schedules were not given, nor the moments”, he declared. Then his retirement was precipitated and he could not return to painting which he was from and of which he says he is a fan.

Ruben Olivera in the Danube.  Photo: El País Archives
Ruben Olivera in the Danube. Photo: El País Archives

A life in football.

Ever since he started in the baby, the striker has run past a ball. Danube, Juventus, Madrid athlete, Penarol, Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Genoa, Lecce, Brescia, Quito League, Latin Yes aprilia were the teams he was part of.

However, there is one that left a special mark: “The best team I was in was the Juventus. It was the first Italian club I played for and I had four very good years, because I grew a lot mentally and matured a lot,” he pointed out.

for her old lady It is one of the greats in Europe: “It is a club in Europe and Italy which is among the best, as an organization and as a whole. I will enjoy the experience I have had with me throughout my life as I have grown professionally and as a person,” he said.

Ruben Olivera at Juventus.  Photo: El País Archives
Ruben Olivera at Juventus. Photo: El País Archives

On the possibility of a return to the Torino squad, he revealed he was invited to visit the youth facilities.

“We recently spoke with Juventus about the youth issue and at the end of April they invited me to go and see the facilities. If that happened, it would be a good thing,” he explained.

In his new stage, as a coach, the footballer looks at himself in the mirror of those who led him to the top level.

His main reference, he pointed out, is the current technical director of the Italian team Atalanta, Gian Piero Gasperini.

“I spent a year and a half with Gasperini in Genoawho has been at Atalante for six or seven years now, and I am taking his role model with me,” he said.

For El Pollo, part of the coach’s merit lies in the transformation he has brought about in the team which is now fighting for access to European cups and the top places in Serie A.

“Until a few years ago, Atalanta was a small team a few years ago and they turned it into a European team, bringing it to the Champions League“, he pointed.
Regarding the coach’s system of play, he said: “I like his playing model with a line of three, two midfielders, one striker, two midfielders and outsiders.”

But Gasperini is not the only one to have marked it. One of them was Fabio Chapel, who managed him during his time at Juve. “He’s a coach who knew how to manage important players, he gave them a lot of freedom, he trained a lot in tactics,” he said.

Regarding his future as a coach, he explained that while he enjoys working in training, he hopes to lead a first team.

“I like working with young people because that’s where you see how they improve, it gives you a lot of joy, to see how they learn and have results on the pitch. However, I would like to form a first team because I feel I can be more direct with words than with the young players,” he said.

With the selection.

The footballer knew how to stand out in the Uruguayan national team, both young and old.

However, there is only one thing that Ruben Olivera regrets in his football career: the day he said “no” to Oscar Washington Tabarez.

“The flow left me more than anything with the Uruguayan team. It is known that I rejected a call from Tabárez when I had just started with the national team and he gave me the cross. From there, I had very good years and I missed the Copa America and the World Cup”, he assured.

Mature, he reflects on the situation: “These are bad decisions you make when you are young and inexperienced in certain situations and, well, I paid the price.”

Ruben Olivera in the Uruguayan national team.  Photo: El País Archives
Ruben Olivera in the Uruguayan national team. Photo: El País Archives

The Uruguayan national team will play in Group H of Qatar World Cup in Portugal, Ghana and South Korea.

About the rivals, the excellent said: “The group will be quite complicated, but seeing Uruguay now, I have no doubts. Going to the round of 16 should not be scary, because the team is now doing what its players do in Europe: they are fully and feel fully with this technical staff.

the chicken meets Diego Alonso from his time as a player in the Uruguayan national team and Peñarol. “I have a very good impression of him. Several colleagues had told me about his work in Mexico and he has a winning mentality, he comes from the Julio Ribas school,” he pointed out.

For the former Danubio and Peñarol, the differential of the celestial coach is that he has a vision that adapts to his times. “He is a renewed coach, who plays as we do in modern football; he transmits everything he learned as a footballer and has the merit of bringing a winning mentality,” he said.

And he concluded: “As a player he was not the most remarkable, but he always had the will and that is what he transmits to his players”.

Ruben Olivera in Peñarol Photo: El País Archive
Ruben Olivera in Peñarol Photo: El País Archive

Beyond the field: a gastronomic enterprise

When Ruben Olivera left football and decided that the city of Latina (40 minutes from Rome) would be his home, he wanted to do something else. That’s why he was encouraged to start his own business off the pitch: ROD Caffé.

As he revealed, his goal was to do something different in Italy and that’s what his new gastronomic project is all about.

The name refers to the initials of the footballer, Ruben Olivera Da Rosa (ROD) and will open in the coming days.

“It’s a bar with a cafeteria, bites and bites,” explained the former Uruguayan team striker. However, he clarified that it will be “more than a bar” in the traditional Italian sense as it will offer food until late at night.

Latina is the city in which he fell in love and in which he and his family felt very welcome, which is why the project is there.

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