FORMER Cherries defender Diego Rico described his time on the South Coast as not being “very positive for me personally and professionally”.
Spain left-back Rico spent three seasons at Vitality Stadium, suffering relegation in his second campaign before becoming part of the side that were knocked out of the Championship play-offs at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
The 29-year-old returned to his native country shortly after the failed promotion bid, signing for Real Sociedad in the Basque Country.
Despite making a total of 83 appearances in red and black, Rico started just five of his 12 Premier League appearances in his debut season.
In an interview with the Guardian, Rico shared: “It wasn’t very positive for me, personally and professionally.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity Eddie Howe gave me, the guidance and I learned.
“I would have liked to be used more, but these are sporting decisions that have to be respected and he is proving himself at Newcastle.
“I think the word would be délocado (translated as misplaced, out of place).
“I adapted well at first, then it was like I had to adapt again because I wasn’t playing. But it’s sports. »
Rico then revealed how he would do extra work to try and force himself into Eddie Howe’s plans.
“He said his door was always open,” he continued.
“And I went to ask him what he needed from me.
“He explained and every session I stayed behind to do these things.
“I was like that for a year, a year and a half.
“At first he said what he wanted us to improve on, then depending on training and games he would say: clearances, one on one, get the ball out, long balls, whatever.
“I stayed every day 40, 45 minutes with the staff, with him, to practice. Never a bad face, never a bad move, just trying to do what he wanted.
“I have nothing bad to say about anyone and beyond the sporting aspect, he and his team are good people. There are players who have had more opportunities, but this is soccer.
The story continues
Following Cherries’ relegation at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, Champions League side Atletico Madrid were interested in acquiring Rico.
With the Dorset club aiming for an instant return to the top flight, the move was nipped in the bud. When Cherries failed to secure a promotion, Rico made sure he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to return to Spain two years in a row.
He started again: “There are opportunities that only come once.
“The manager, who was Eddie’s (Jason Tindall) number two, said I was going to be important, I had to stay.
“He said one thing, then did something else.
“When we failed to come up, Real Sociedad came.
“I spoke to the sporting director and said I couldn’t turn down another chance.
“I told him the year before that they took a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”