Q&A: Getting to know Pedro Senar, Villarreal CF International Operations Manager

Villarreal CF
Villarreal CF
Published in
8 min readDec 7, 2022

Pedro Senar has been working at Villarreal CF since the 2019/20 season and currently manages operations in the club’s Commercial Department.

How did your interest in football begin?

At school all of my classmates would play football during break time but I didn’t at first. It wasn’t until I was six or seven years old that I decided to start playing football with them because I thought, ‘if I want to have friends, I have to play football with them’. So I started playing at school all the time and kept improving until I was one of the best in the class.

In the 12th grade, I went to study in Massachusetts in the United States. Over there I started to play football (soccer) with my high school and we had a great season. I played as a striker and I scored around 35 goals in that season. After that I was selected for the North American ambassadors team which was made up of the best players in New England. We travelled from the USA to Scotland and Ireland to play some friendly matches over there and we were trained by one of the best coaches in England at that time for 15 days, but I forget his name. Nonetheless, it was a very good experience.

After that, I came back to Spain and I wanted to be a professional footballer. I went to La Masia (Barcelona’s famous academy) and had some trials there. I only spent a week there but I have a great memory from that time. It was a coincidence because at that time Johan Cruyff was the manager for Barça and he signed Jordi Cruyff for the Barcelona B team, so I had a chance to play a game with him and his teammates. It was a great experience. I remember playing with Jordi there, it was my top experience in football.

After that, I started university in Barcelona when I was 19. At university I studied Direction and Management for Businesses and I studied in Barcelona, Montpellier and California throughout my degree. That was one of the best periods of my life. Afterwards, I started to work with my family business.

What was the biggest difference between Spanish and American football?

In my opinion, the main difference is that over there they are so professional from the early years in all sports. Training was scheduled for every day, they motivated us to train, they might not have known a lot about football but they gave me all of their time and dedication. Not as a player but more in terms of training, the coaching was superb. I felt almost like a professional. They had everything studied - I was impressed as it was high school, not university. That was amazing. The amount of work they put in. I preferred to train there.

In fact, when I finished 12th grade, two universities contacted me to join them to study there and play soccer. Sometimes I think about why I didn’t take that opportunity. I think I didn’t because I loved Spain and my family who had a business. I thought maybe five years in the USA was too long and I was alone out there as well. Nowadays, there are a lot of students that go to the USA but 30 years ago, we didn’t have mobile phones so there was a big disconnect. Now that I know myself, I probably would have stayed in the USA and had my life over there.

Describe your role at Villarreal CF.

I am the Commercial Department’s operations manager and I also carry out all the quality control for our international academies. I am responsible for organisation, image of the brand etc. Everything that is sent outside of the club I have to review to ensure the quality is appropriate.

I also deal with the administration of academies and the Player Development Program (PDP). This includes correspondence with academy directors regarding finances and I work hand in hand with Lucy with communications and lots of other things.

What is the best part of your job?

I will tell you what I like most is that I can work with young people and different kinds of people from all around the world. This gives me life and energy. The main thing is that I feel like I am young because I am working with young people, staying up to date with all the new technology and communicating with players, parents, coaches and directors all the time.

What is your favourite sport apart from football?

I would say motorsports, I prefer world rally car. And risky sports in general. I love skiing, I love the mountains. We had a house in the Pyrenees so I started skiing when I was three years old. In fact, I was a two-time champion for Valencia in skiing. I competed in skiing from six to 15 years old and I competed in the Spanish national championships. I didn’t do very well but I got there. They were fantastic times.

I also practiced and have an advanced license for scuba diving. Now I have three kids so I am very busy and I don’t have time for it. I scuba dived in the coral reef in Australia and in Madagascar. They are very nice places.

And then, the last thing, is parachuting. I had my license for that also. Jumping from 4000 metres in the sky! That is one of the best experiences. You have to do a course (to jump alone), but before that you can do a tandem with a coach and jump with them. This is an experience you can do when you want, here in Castellón for just 200 bucks. It is cheap for such an experience. Once in a lifetime. I did it in Girona, the biggest skydiving centre in Europe. I felt like I was superman. I did it first there and then we said we would do the course so we could jump alone. I did 45 jumps after that. Then I had to quit because of my family.

How did you end up joining Villarreal CF?

The CEO of Villarreal has been a friend of mine since we were at school and we played together in football teams during our youth.

I worked with my family business for 12 years but the 2008 economic crisis hit so I quit that job and founded a padel club which I still have now. Two years ago, I wanted to get out there again so I called Fernando and asked him, ‘do you have anything I can help with?’, because I wanted to work at Villarreal. I wanted to work here, I wanted to speak English, I wanted to get to know new people. I was very alone at my padel club and working at Villarreal has been a fantastic experience for me.

What makes Villarreal CF so special as a club?

I think everybody should know why Villarreal so special and for me it is because in this crazy football world, where it is very difficult to compete at the highest level, you can see that it is a family that is running this club and competing with the world’s best. This for me is amazing. I am very proud that my friend is the owner of this big club and he is the chief and does almost everything for the first team. Villarreal is competing in Europe and we are two-time UEFA Champions League semi-finalists. Fernando has learned everything and he has a real passion for football since he started working here 20 years ago.

I think what the Roig family has done here is unique. They have to balance the budget every year while competing the giants of world football when it comes to signing players. And also because their focus is primarily on the youth academy. At the end of the day, they believe the kids are the most important thing and if you give them this sport, football, you are giving something good to this community and you give them a pathway to play professionally.

How important is it for the club to develop internationally?

I think it is important, if you can, to spread your brand to the world, teach outside Spain what we do here and how we do it. You need money but you don’t need tonnes of money to create a community and to contribute to it. If you can spread your methodology, you feel very proud of yourself because you are helping and educating other people while you are making your brand more competitive and valuable at the same time.

To create new communities all over the world with your brand, seeing kids wearing the Villarreal jersey in Asia, USA, Australia etc. If I was Fernando I would be very proud of my club.

Now for some rapid-fire questions!

Q: Favourite country for a holiday?

A: I would say Australia. It is a very big country. I have been there and I did a very long trip in Melbourne and then Sydney. I also visited the biggest rock in the world which is in the middle of the desert and in a car it takes 40 minutes to go around it. A very spiritual rock.

Q: Movies or TV series?

A: Movies, my favourites are Godfather and Dancing with Wolves.

Q: Favourite ice cream flavour?

A: Lemon and chocolate.

Q: If you could live on a different planet what would it be?

I really don’t think there is another planet like Earth in the solar system. It’s amazing, I understand we have to study and I believe in astronomy and astrology. For me, we have to love the Earth more. This planet has everything and sometimes a lot of people don’t realise that. For me for example, I have loved mountains all my life and now during the week I usually run twice a week in the mountains.

I think we have to stay connected with natire and the earth for our spirituality and mind. I can’t imagine my life on another planet. There are people who want to build cities and live there. But I think why? What is there? We have this earth and I don’t know anything about so many of the countries. I still have to visit so many things here in Spain. I have visited Australia and I haven’t even visited Cordoba!