'Pep was always interested in your personal life and gave you advice': Bartra

Marc Bartra began to appear sporadically for FC Barcelona in 2016, but could not enter the initial eleven to become a regular. This led the Spanish defender to move on to Borussia Dortmund , who bought it for € 8 million to replace Mats Hummels then.

Bartra, who now plays for the league club Real Betis , was part of Barcelona for 14 years. He graduated from La Masia, the academy of the Catalan club that has produced Leo Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets.

Bartra recalled how amazed he was after seeing them in his first practice with the senior team. Yes, once I was on the first team, they were still my idols instead of my teammates, he said.

I particularly remember being in the locker room on my first day of training with the first team. He was 17 years old and it was as if everyone was in a bubble. I said to myself: 'I am here to train with them having been watching them on television for many years. It was also a wonderful period for a Barça team that was winning the lot, including six sets and triples, etc. It was a dream come true and the feeling of fulfilling my dream brought out the best in me, both with the first and second teams.

At that time, Barcelona almost never resorted to the transfer market to strengthen its squad. The academy was producing tremendous talent and the system welcomed young people at the same time. I improved during those years and I knew that if I was doing well with the first team, it would be with the help of local players because I think they constituted 80% of the team. Players like Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Cesc (Fabregas), Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Pedro. I was very lucky to feel so welcome and it was all due to the fact that they had gone through the same process that I could enjoy such a rewarding experience, said Bartra, who made 51 appearances for the eight-time German champions, winning the national cup once in his two year period.

Bartra is one of those who was given a debut by Pep Guardiola. "It (relationship with Pep) was very good from the start. He was the first-team coach and he was there to win trophies. He had played for the club as well and gone through the same experience as me. He asked me plenty of questions and also gave me lots of advice in order for me to keep doing what I was doing and also to improve," recalled Bartra who will feature on Sunday against Athletic Bilbao in the the league .

I remember that the first question he asked me was about my studies and not abandoning my degree. I was very interested in your personal life and gave you confidence to train well and do your best. I will always be grateful to him because he handed me my debut and I took my first steps in the first team with him. He is a coach who dominates every phase of the game. He knows what you have to do in each position and it helped me a lot. I was just an open-eyed young man who wanted to learn and observe everything he did, he added.