Fabio Coentrao: I forgot how to play football at Real Madrid
Fabio Coentrao would like to remain at Sporting Lisbon beyond his current loan deal as he said he has regained his confidence following a difficult season at Real Madrid.
Under contract with Madrid until June 2019, Coentrao joined Sporting in the summer in the hope of relaunching his career.
"The truth is that I would like to stay at this club until the end of my career," Coentrao told Marca. "Things are going well. I'm very happy here but I have a contract with Real Madrid and I will respect their decision. [Madrid] gave me a lot in seven years, but it's here where I have found happiness again."
Coentrao, 29, has made 24 starts in all competitions for Sporting. The Portugal international made 106 appearances for Madrid following his arrival from Benfica in 2011 but hardly featured in 2016-17.
"To always train knowing that you are not going to play brings you down," Coentrao said. "I had Marcelo ahead of me. You play one game and then you might not play again for another seven games and that is what's happened to me at Madrid. If I could turn back, I would change many things.
"At Madrid, I thought I had forgotten how to play football. I would think to myself, 'What is going on? Can I not play anymore?' It was only when I would go to the national team that I would say to myself, 'I know what I'm doing, I know how to play football.' I needed to leave to recover my play and regain confidence. It has been the best option."
With the World Cup this summer, Coentrao, who missed Euro 2016 with a thigh injury, said he is only focusing on the present.
"This year I'm doing the talking on the pitch," he said. "I learned from Cristiano [Ronaldo] that this is the best, to talk on the pitch. That is where you give the best answer.
"I want to be champion with Sporting, help the club achieve its aims because we are alive in three competitions. If I play well and injuries respect me, things will come naturally. I want Portugal to win the World Cup and if I can help, I will be there. If not, it's OK."
Sporting are third in the domestic standings, eight points adrift of leaders Porto.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.