Marc Cucurella was delighted to win both the Players’ and Supporters’ Player of the Season awards – and surprised. “It is amazing, not possible in my first season here in this league,” he said. “Thank you for everyone who voted for me, the teammates and the fans.”
Almost everyone else, though, made him the heavy favourite because of his blend of whole-hearted endeavour and skill in both attack and defence.
“I understand football means helping the team and running until your legs won’t let you,” he said. “I think the fans like it if you work hard on the pitch and I thank them for their support. We had two years without fans and the game against Manchester United was a present for them.”
That game included his first goal for the club, and his tears after scoring revealed what it meant to the popular defender. “A lot of emotions. We arrived here on the last day of the transfer window, me and my wife and my two boys were alone here, we stayed at home in winter because we didn’t speak English. I remembered all those bad things when I scored so it was a present for my family. Now the weather is perfect, the days are longer and the family is very happy here.”
Cucurella credits Spanish speakers at the club including Bruno and Alexis Mac Allister with getting him through those difficult times but also head coach Graham Potter. “He helped me a lot. After my first game I said to my wife maybe the next week I won’t play. But Graham put me in again against Leicester and we played well.
“He always speaks with me and gives me confidence and I can help the team win games. In Spain I always played left back or left midfield. I’d never played left centre back but the team and the gaffer helped me adapt.”
He credits the spirit in the squad as well as a change of tactical emphasis for turning the season round since the last international break. “We had six games that we lost but the level of the team is really high and we changed this situation. And in the last few games we have played really well, scored goals and kept clean sheets.
“We had an international break and the gaffer had a lot of meetings and spoke with the team and said we had to play more to attack and create chances and now the level is really good. I think it’s because we worked hard and stayed together. And the last game was really fantastic, we scored four goals and kept a clean sheet.”
That should stand the team in good stead next season, he believes. “Maybe we won’t have those long weeks without wins next season. We are six points below Europe and maybe the challenge for next season is transform draws into wins and we have the chance to be in Europe.”
Long black curly wigs are on sale around the city and many fans will be sporting them at Elland Road this weekend for the last away game of the season as a tribute – to Cucurella’s delight. “I read that the fans are going to go to Leeds with long hair and this is funny,” he said. “It will be good for the atmosphere, the team and for everyone.”
What a video. 😂 Our Men's Players’ Player of the Season is @Cucurella3! 🇪🇸— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) May 9, 2022
🏆 @SnickersUKcom // #BHAFC 🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/1mMKlZn34U