Language has always been a tricky terrain for footballers playing in European nations outside of their home countries. Perhaps a very extreme case of it would be the hellish treatment accorded to Gareth Bale by the Madrid-based media outlets for the Welshman’s apparent lack of willingness to learn Spanish during his time with Real.
While the same hostility has not often happened, foreign players arriving in England have also faced difficulties due to the language barrier.
Top stars of the game such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Aguero broke into the scene in England, producing a great many memorable moments in the Premier League.
But after every decisive win, they would face the stern test of talking to purely English-speaking journalists and pundits with cameras shining on them.
To better equip non-English speakers, both in the past and presently, footballers are paired with a teammate who would accompany them for interviews and even translate important tactics from the manager during training sessions.
Liverpool‘s new signing Darwin Nunez made the switch from Portugal to England without fluency in English and hence has been paired with Spanish midfielder Thiago to bridge the language gap between Nunez and the English-speaking squad.
During the Reds’ pre-season tour, Andy Robertson was spotted asking Thiago to translate instructions from Jurgen Klopp for the ex-Benfica striker ahead of their game against Manchester United.
While Thiago may be the official translator, it looks like the Scottish left-back is the one looking out for Nunez as the duo were spotted horsing around during Liverpool’s latest training session.
As neither player speak a shared tongue, the attempt to communicate about a misplaced pass from Nunez during a Rondo session resulted in a hilarious exchange between the two players.
After Robertson failed to keep the ball in play following a difficult pass from Nunez, both players were blaming each other for losing possession.
The Uruguayan can be heard saying ‘mal’ (‘wrong’ in Spanish) several times in response to Robertson’s reaction.
However, the Scotsman seems to have surprised many football fans with his basic Spanish as he was spotted referring to Nunez as ‘cabron’ (‘bastard’ in Spanish) in a friendly manner.
Although both players were animated in their reactions, Liverpool fans would be pleased to know that they shook it off and evened the scores at 1-1 for the Rondo session.
Moreover, this would be the exact reception supporters of the club would be hoping from the English-speaking players in the squad in order to attract more promising footballers such as Nunez in the future, without letting language be a barrier.
As the Reds striker is set to return to the squad following his three-match suspension for the weekend’s Merseyside derby against Everton, both Robertson and Nunez be hoping to continue their link-up on the pitch as Jurgen Klopp’s men continue to claw their way back up the PL table.