'I will be forever grateful to La Masia & Barca for helping me become the player I’m today'
Leeds starlet Kun Temenuzhkov on growing up in Spain, why Messi is the best and what’s Marcelo Bielsa like
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Kun Temenuzhkov and I’m currently playing for Leeds United.
How old were you when you moved to Spain?
I was born in Bulgarian capital Sofia. When I was at the age of 18 months, I moved to Spain with my parents. I was raised in the Catalan town of Fraga, where I managed to learn Spanish easily because I started living there when I was very little. I went to a religious school called Santa Ana and I’m still very fond of this small town because I had great memories there.
And how did you get the chance to join La Masia, Barcelona’s world-famous academy?
La Masia helped me become the person and the player I’m today and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to be able to learn from the best club in the world.
What’s the thing that makes La Masia so special?
The attitude. The joy and the professionalism they’re welcoming every player with is the key that helps all the players, who have just left their families to chase their dreams, to settle in easily. We became one big family – the players and the club employees who were looking after us.
Did you have the chance to train with some of Barca’s first-team stars?
Some days I was training with Barca B, Barcelona’s second team. Every Thursday the attacking players were working on their finishing skills and all those training sessions served as a great motivation to all the youngsters.
Is Messi the greatest player of all time?
Messi is unique. To watch him play is a truly magical experience. I remember I used to go to the Camp Nou and see the first team in action – it was something that all La Masia graduates were drawing inspiration from. You start dreaming that maybe one day you’ll be able to achieve some of the things these great players have done on this pitch. As for Messi, I believe there won’t be another player like him – one that makes such a drastic difference whenever he plays.
After La Masia, you signed for Leeds. Was England your dream destination?
England is very different to what I was used to in Spain. People here live and breathe football in a very intense way.
How do you feel at Leeds?
There’s a great competition between all of us and our strive for improvement is thanks to everything that Marcelo Bielsa has done for us.
Talking about Bielsa, he’s one of the most interesting characters in world football and he was also the one who gave you your first-team debut. Have you got the chance to talk to him? What is he like?
I haven’t talked to him but I feel that he’s a guy who loves football. And this is no surprise to all of us who experience this job with our heart. Bielsa is a coach admired by the entire football world. My debut was something I had always dreamed of. It came true after all the efforts I had invested, after I had left my family and friends and the place I had been living in for so many years.
Let’s talk about Bulgaria a bit – do you dream of playing for the senior team one day?
Every time I’ve been called up to the national team it’s a great honour and pleasure, knowing that the people at the FA count on me. Now I have to travel to Kiev with the U-21 team and that’s another step I will take towards the senior team. I’m proud of the fact that I can represent the country I was born in.
What are your football dreams like?
Before my dream was to make it as a professional player. Now that I’ve achieved it my objective is to continue working hard and improve every single day. As of today, my football dreams would be to play at a World Cup with Bulgaria and to reach the Champions League final one day.