Pau Gasol: "I'm not the same guy who left 20 years ago, but I'm still special".

Barça presents the Catalan center without putting date to his reappearance

Àlex Gozalbo
3 min
Joan Laporta and Pau Gasol

BarcelonaTwenty years after an explosion that caused his departure to the NBA, Pau Gasol has been presented this Thursday as a Barça player. "Today is a historic day," boasted the club. "I'm very happy to be back home, it's a very special moment for me. Twenty years ago I left the club as a player, but I have always been linked to Barça. Being back to help this team excites me a lot. I'm really enjoying this experience. One of my aspirations is to help win the Euroleague, which is the title that I have not won," said Gasol.

"I'm not the same Pau who left 20 years ago, but I'm still a special player capable of contributing things to the team and the club," added the center of Sant Boi de Llobregat, who was accompanied by his wife, his daughter, one of his brothers (Adrià) and his parents.

"We have the best multisport club in the world and today we have the honour to meet again with Pau Gasol, who is a world reference. Thanks for coming back home and defending, again, your jersey. There is only one title you haven't won and we all know what it is. I am convinced that you will continue to make history," said Joan Laporta, president of the club.

The ceremony took place at the Palau Blaugrana, where Barça will host Alba Berlin this Friday (9pm, DAZN). "We are working and progressing well. I have good feelings, but I don't want to get my hopes up too high and I want to keep my feet on the ground. If everything continues as it has been, we have an idea of when I can make my comeback, but I don't want to set a date. We'll wait a few days to finalise it. I hope it's soon, but I still have to get into my rhythm," Gasol has argued.

"I welcome this challenge as a special opportunity to return to compete and help the team in any way I can. I'm taking it day by day. I want to be closer to playing. I return with the same enthusiasm and ambition I had when I left 20 years ago. I did not want my career to end with an injury, I want to end it enjoying myself," said Gasol.

"I have found a spectacular team. I have great teammates and a great atmosphere. The team has a chance to have a special season. I want to return all the appreciation I'm receiving. When you're at a club like Barça there are always expectations and pressure, but championships have to be won and nobody gives you titles for free. I will try to contribute and complement the team by doing my job," said the player.

Joan Laporta, Pau Gasol and Josep Cubells

Gasol does not rule out staying at Barça next season. "I will be making decisions as I go along, seeing how everything evolves, but talk about next season is premature," he acknowledged. The centre has explained how his return to Barça was conceived. "It all started with some conversations with Juan Carlos Navarro. I was studying other options and we began to study whether it would be possible to return to Barça. Thanks to him and Sarunas Jasikevicius, who trusted that my arrival could be positive, everything could be closed. I also spoke with the board that could take over at the club," he said.

"I want to bring the experience I have accumulated during my career. I've been fortunate to compete in championships of great demand and pressure," said Gasol, who will wear number 16. "The process has been difficult. From the moment the first alarms went off I was worried. I've always been very competitive and wanted to get ahead. The foot did not hold. I relapsed and the bone was still hurting. I wanted to give myself a chance. My discipline and my desire to be able to play again has pushed me this far. Whatever happens, I've had a privileged career, but I wanted to put this icing on the cake," he said.

"This pandemic has made me lose close friendships and this helps you to relativise things," said Gasol. In these two years I have valued the fact of being with the people I appreciate". The player has analysed how he has evolved: "I am more mature and have more experience, but not the same energy. I continue to have desire and I have more ambition than ever".