Koke: "My head's not here"

Spanish forward says desire to leave is family matter

HOU_20110521_Thorne_10_Koke_Solli

Photo Credit: 
Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Spanish forward Koke wants Houston Dynamo fans to know that his request
to depart the MLS club has nothing to do with the team, the coach, the
city or his playing situation.

He just misses his family.

“It’s early to say why I’m not playing, because I’ve been here for just
a short time,” he told FutbolMLS.com by phone from Houston on Monday
evening. “But more than anything, I’m doing this for my family life,
which is not the easiest right now being here in the United States and
my family being in Europe. I can’t see them every day.”

News broke on Monday of the player’s desire to leave the club, and
management is currently working with the former Aris and Marseille
attacker to reach an arrangement which would allow Koke to return to
Europe.

READ: Koke asks to leave Dynamo

When the news surfaced, speculation immediately turned to the forward’s
inability to break into the Dynamo starting lineup. He has played a
total of seven games, starting two and registering a single goal against
the New York Red Bulls back on May 21.

“I’ve just arrived here a little while ago, and the little that I have
played is justified by the fact that I have to adapt,” he said. “A month
has passed, and logically you need time to adapt to get to know the
league and my teammates. But the sporting side has nothing to do with my
daily life, which I think is more complicated than the sporting.”

The emotional side of Koke, who shed more than a tear at the press
conference in April in which he announced his departure from Greek club
Aris, is evident when he speaks in detail about his family.

“On a personal level, I have not been able to settle here,” Koke said of
joining MLS. “I’m not adapting because of my family. My family is very
close to me; I have a daughter and I’m separated from my wife. Playing
in Europe, I have everything much closer because I can enjoy my daughter
and, here in the United States, I can’t see her when I want. It’s
complicated for her to come here, because she’s two years old.”

Koke says his Dynamo contract runs through July 31, at which point the
MLS club would have the option to extend the deal or pass. Dynamo
management crafted an agreement that would allow the coaching staff to
learn more about Koke before committing to the player long-term.

“One of the challenges is getting to know the player,” Houston
president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com at the time of the Koke
signing. “It was a whole team effort by the coaches to watch as many
Aris games as possible and get a lot of references. [Koke] was on the
top of our list, and the coaches felt he’s the type of player that would
fit the team and be a real factor in MLS.”

However, he’s not even out the door yet at Robertson Stadium and he’s
already extending feelers to his old club Aris, who granted him a
release from his contract in April in order to allow Koke to try his
hand at the American dream. He captained the team in 2010.

“The possibility of returning to Aris always exists, because the fans
and I, we have a common feeling which is love for that team,” Koke said.
“That team gave me everything. I am a person that knows how to say
thanks, and I have feelings. And in this club you feel so loved, and in
this case I am fortunate to feel like I’m their idol.

“It’s a real dream for me to have the chance to return to Aris, but I
don’t promise anything because it could not happen. But in my head I do
think aout this possibility when they love you and you are welcome. This
is very important in life. So there is a big chance to return but
nothing is certain.”

The 28-year-old went out of his way to make clear that the club and his
Dynamo teammates have been “stupendous” in how they have welcomed him.
But he wants to end the relationship on a positive note without burning
bridges.

“It hasn’t worked,” Koke said. “It hasn’t been what we were hoping on
either side," he said. "The truth is that it’s not worth it for me to be
here right now when my head is not here. It’s several things — the sporting side, the daily social life. Things
haven’t gotten off the ground from the moment I arrived here, and you
have to look at the personal side. Right now, I need to be close to my
people.”