A native of Ribera del Fresno, this adopted Zarza native moved to La Zarza at the age of 10, so since then, as he often says, “I have two towns.”
He studied French Philology, although journalism was always on his mind. At the end of his university years, he went, like many other students, to the United Kingdom, to improve his level of English.
What can you tell us about your arrival in England?
I went to Manchester with the idea of staying a few months and I have stayed there for four and a half years. It is a city that has marked me so much that I got a tattoo with its coordinates.
What did he do?
I started as a waiter on the breakfast shift at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Piccadilly hotel. Even though I started work at 5:30 am, I discovered that I love the hospitality industry. I ended up as Assistant Manager, a kind of manager.
A sector that would open doors for you?
Well, fortunately, yes. One day I met a client from Singapore who offered me a fantastic job. I had to be in charge of accompanying groups of football-loving tourists around Manchester. I went with them to tour Old Trafford and watch the games from a VIP room. I met the Neville brothers and Nicky Butt, I got a shirt signed by Giggs and I began to move in a world that I liked. It was a stage of total enjoyment.
Until the Spanish international footballer Juan Mata knocked on his door?
Well yes. Juan Mata, a Manchester player, had the Spanish restaurant ‘Tapeo & Wine’ with his father – it recently closed. They called me to work and I didn’t hesitate for a moment. When Pep Guardiola sat down at a table in my section on my second day, I knew that the decision had been the right one. Ander Herrera, Mourinho, Pogba, Brahim, Mikel Arteta, David de Gea, Danilo, De la Peña, Bojan… were regular customers. The list of present and past idols who passed there day in and day out was also countless. And Mata proved to be what he projects, a great guy, always close.
And meanwhile, did you still have journalism in your head?
TRUE. Little by little I progressed and learned and I was clear that I wanted to make my childhood dream come true, to be a journalist. He had decided to study journalism. After talking with my mother, with my girlfriend, Ana, with her mother… I decided to do it semi-in-person at the Rey Juan Carlos University.
At what moment did you realize that journalism was really your thing?
In November 2018 I had to assist a group of workers from the Times sports section. Soon I was in the newsroom of this newspaper, taking part in morning content meetings and rubbing shoulders with some of the best sports journalists in the country. It was an unforgettable week of practices. What I saw in the Times was what I wanted: to turn my passion into a profession. After those seven days I decided that I had to return to Spain and look for an internship somewhere.
And can you tell us how you arrived at the Diario AS editorial office?
A regular customer of the restaurant opened the doors of the entrance test for an internship at Diario As. I passed them and as soon as they told me that I was joining on July 1, I packed my bags. I packed dozens of boxes and souvenirs, brought Ana and our Stopper and we headed back.
What would be your mission?
Upon arrival, they informed me that I would be an intern at the Real Madrid Section and my tutor would be Tomás Roncero. I was amazed when I entered the newsroom and had my first meeting with Tomás, a close person, like Juan Mata.
What were your first performances?
On one of my first days I had to go to the airport to meet Take Kubo, the Japanese man who had just signed for Madrid. Shortly after, Alphonse Areola, former Real Madrid goalkeeper, would be the protagonist of the first presentation that I had to cover as a journalist. And Zinedine Zidane, the recipient of my first question, with a somewhat trembling voice, at a press conference. If someone told me that when I bought the Marca and Ace guide when I was a child I was going to say to Zidane “Hello mister, Fernando Sánchez, Diario As” I would not have imagined it in my wildest dreams.
Did you ever imagine working in the editorial office of one of the top national newspapers?
Never. Not even when I started the internship a year and a half ago. I am a newbie to the trade and I have a lot to learn. I consider myself lucky.
What is your job?
At the moment I work on the website, in the football section. Our mission is to cover everything that is necessary and that is not reached by the multiple delegations that the Ace has spread throughout Spain, Europe and the world. In my shift, tomorrow, we try to create attractive content for the reader, easily digestible pieces that may be novel, the kind that you want to click on when you open the browser for a few minutes. We also cover live events that coincide with our schedule. It’s about being a little bit into everything and working as a team. The Ace website is active 24 hours a day and you have to be precise and immediate. Nowadays, where information flies, you cannot afford to be late for news. Avoiding that delay is our job.
Have you worked on other publications?
Quite a few digital media that serve as a ‘quarry’ for young journalists. VAVEL and Somosbasket.com are the first ones in which I collaborated and where I learned the most, especially in the latter. One of the most curious was ‘Society 19’, a university magazine from the United Kingdom in which I made a list of the best places to eat in Madrid or narrated experiences like the day I went skydiving.
What vision or memories of La Zarza do you have in the distance?
I associate La Zarza with tranquility. As I get older I appreciate the town more. Before I didn’t consider growing old in it, now I don’t rule it out. Although when I am in La Zarza currently I miss La Zarza of the past, much more effervescent and lively.
What plans or projects do you have in the short term?
In the short term I plan to consolidate my journalistic career and try to collaborate with other media. In today’s journalism, you need to break a lot of stone and from many different quarries.