SERGIO REGUILÓN & MARTA DIAZ: NOW & THEN
An exploration into personal growth and human connection through the depths of our successes, stories, scars, influences and ancestry. Celebrating the different ways we grow, together.
Now & Then is an investigation into personal triumph, independent creativity and, most importantly, the depth of human connection over time. Highlighting our ability to carve out new relationships, pathways and visions from what has gone before us.
“Over the last year I’ve learned that every little detail is so important. In that time, we have both grown stronger together and are more determined in our dreams. My biggest ambition is to keep growing, to make a bigger impact on the world.”
Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters. It’s why it is integral that you make, create and preserve objects, relationships and moments that you need to exist in the world. To ensure the legacy of what you love lives on.
For Sergio Reguilon and Marta Diaz, the moments that mean the most are the small, insignificant snippets of everyday life that they get to share together – “cooking, or at least trying to, watching his bad choice of films, making TikToks, taking naps in the afternoon” – as Marta splits her time between Madrid and Sergio’s home in London. Despite having to deal with travel restrictions over the past year, their relationship still hinges on one rule. Being near one another is always a priority.
“We can never be apart for that long,” Marta explains as she is met with a nod of approval from Sergio. As two independent cultural figures who often serve others before they serve themselves, it is important to “have a chill life,” as Sergio describes. That’s because they both stand at the forefront of a new and emerging force in Spanish popular culture.
The sense of isolation that sometimes casts a shadow over their relationship is a reminder that there are times where footballers don’t have it all their own way. Two times, in fact. Relationships and social life, is one. Although Sergio is the first to admit that there are no hidden or hardest parts of the job, “it’s the best career you can wish for.” And the second is style.
That’s because a footballers’ wardrobe is often made up of just two different clothing rails; comfort and wealth. Through the working week they spent the best part in training wear. When given the freedom of choice, there is unsurprisingly a tendency to overcompensate. The levels of expectancy have heightened over the past 18 months, too. A flurry of questions thrown towards footballers nowadays look to cash in on some cultural credibility by asking them to ‘rate their teammates drip.’ It’s become another vacuum in which footballers’ opinions are often trivialised. When you meet Sergio, the archetypal alpha male style stereotypes are blown away. He doesn’t get seduced by the hypothetical and he is unfazed by all the attention that comes with arriving as the talent on set. His style reflects that too.
“I think people get to know the Marta she shows on social media but the side I know is very special. That’s the side of her that is very selfless, it’s all love.”
“I try to avoid drawing attention to myself,” Sergio explains, “I like to look good, but without making a statement.” Well, Sergio arrives wearing entirely Dolce and Gabbana. White tee, black jeans, white sneakers. An outfit that deceives the chill of a March morning. He comes straight from training, via a pit stop home to ensure he arrives with Marta, so everything is casual, considered. Not so much of a stretched jean or diamond in sight. But, beyond the talk of wardrobes, if you needed further proof that footballers are just like you and me, then just ask them how they’ve been spending their days during the pandemic.
Sergio doesn’t even hesitate, he’s straight in. “A lot of films, you know. I try to find time for games too.” Movies, gaming are the standard responses for your ordinary footballer. However his extended list of lockdown hobbies is a lot different to the ones his teammates probably go home to. “ YouTube too,” he laughs.
That’s because, alongside girlfriend Marta, who started her own YouTube channel in 2018 and now has more than 2 million followers, Sergio has become a regular feature in challenges, tasks and quizzes that fuel Marta’s influence. The fact their relationship lives and exists on YouTube is testament to the fact that they announced their relationship on the platform two years ago.
The couple originally met in a nightclub in Madrid in 2019 and were spotted publicly for the first time attending the wedding of Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and Pilar Rubio in Seville 2019. Before then, they preferred to keep their romance under wraps – until Marta disclosed all on YouTube. In that time, Marta’s online following has tipped over into the millions and Sergio has swapped Spain for London. So, what do they remember of their relationship in those early days?
To answer this, the pair both break out into a rendition of Cuando te vuelva a ver, the one song that reminds them of each other. “Back then he played that in the car all the time to make me fall in love,” Marta explains. “It worked,” Sergio interjects. “We’re still here two years later,” Marta responds. The strength of their ‘couple goals’ extends into them finishing each other’s sentences.
“In fact, one of my favourite dates was one of the ones earlier in the relationship when we went to the Daddy Yankee concert,” Sergio begins to explain before Marta adds that “the plan was to have dinner only, so I was dressed super simple. Suddenly, he says ‘yo, i’ll get you something at the mall. Next thing, from the mall we’re going to the Daddy Yankee concert. It shows that best dates are the ones that are spontaneous.”
“The feeling I get with football cannot be compared to any other stage of life, like, that happiness you get when scoring a goal for example, or winning a title, I’ve never ever felt anything like that. That feeling of euphoria will never leave me.”
“My biggest ambition right now is to keep enjoying my football, win a trophy with Tottenham and do something big with my country in the summer.”
In a parallel universe, Sergio would be that guy. He could be the archetypal Instagram boyfriend, he could be the legitimate e-gamer – he was the first ever Spanish player to officially join an eSports team when he signed for Team Heretics in 2019 – and he could discuss the intricacies of film with any director. Instead, in the here and now, Sergio Reguilon is one of the brightest full-backs in Europe.
Since joining the Jose Mourinho revolution at Spurs, arriving hand-in-hand with the return of Gareth Bale, Sergio has been in the front seat of the club’s rollercoaster season. He shone in the team’s 6-1 away win at Manchester United in his first month in the Premier League and he also suffered in Spurs’ recent how-did-that-actually-happen defeat at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.
For a player with a rising profile in the game, and someone who enjoys the triviality of YouTube, he has rarely captured the attention of the back page headline writers. But, again, he does not carry himself like a trademark modern day footballer. His approach to life is based on an immediate grasp of a situation, of the security and safety of his family, and the sense of determination he brings to every aspect of life. It explains why the intensity in which he plays on the pitch is matched to his mood away from the game. It’s also why he can turn up to a Dolce & Gabbana shoot wearing full Dolce & Gabbana and it feels right. Natural. Sacrosanct, even. And not like he’s put on his best gear for a day away from the training ground.
Jose Mourinho credits Sergio’s assurance, confidence and fight from his education at Real Madrid, the club he joined as an eight-year-old and only left last year. ‘He comes from a culture of very technical football,’ said Mourinho. ‘He was born and made in a winning club where, since you are a kid, you are educated in that direction. He goes forward, he is quick, he is creative, he assists.’ It’s something that Sergio agrees with. His upbringing and life as a ‘cadette’ at Real Madrid has informed the makeup of his entire life.
“When I was a kid I was taught a lot of ‘respect values’ in the youth academy. From there I learnt to fight until the last minute, until there is nothing left to give. They build you as a player, but also as a human being. So, right now I am how I am because of the way they made me. There is no doubt that I am a very competitive player who is always battling and fighting on the pitch because of that.”
Although a diminutive figure at 5ft 8ins, Sergio has never been one to shy away from battle. He was once involved in a training-ground dispute with Sergio Ramos and in March 2019, he confronted Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi during El Clásico at the Bernabeu.
“It’s very difficult to go from the academy to the first team,” he says. “You have the best players in the world there and the level needed to get into the squad is very, very high. Every day. You have to believe in yourself, to know how to fight, and that has helped me in the way I play.”
In the last three years Sergio has won the FIFA Club World Cup with Real Madrid, the Europa League last year with Sevilla and made his debut for the Spanish national team. But the highs of top flight football don’t intoxicate him and the lows don’t derail him. He’s very much his own man. Or, as he’s been referred to in circles around Spurs, ‘a player dedicated to peak performance.’
“Even if I have a bad day he always looks for the good and brings that energy into every situation. He fuels my ambition. He has given me a greater determination to do so much more.”
Naturally, being with Marta, someone who also operates at the top of her profession with over 5 million combined social followers and as a fully fledged author, you wonder how their parallel lives and careers influence each other. The answer, as you would expect, is unique to them.“One of the most important things I learned from Sergio is to look at the positive side of things,” Marta explains. “Even if I have a bad day or I feel sad, he always looks at the good and brings that energy into every situation. He fuels my ambition. The biggest ambition is to keep growing in every aspect of my life. Over the years I’ve always been a very ambitious person and being with Sergio has given me a greater determination to do so much more.”
So, despite having blossoming careers before even meeting each other, they’ve decided to grow stronger together. Acknowledging that to reach new, boundary-breaking levels of achievement, they needed each other.
“It’s true, my Marta is a wonderful person,” says Sergio with a defiance that is softened only slightly by a subtle crack in his voice. “I only have positive things to say about her, she’s all love and kindness. She’s a truly great person that everyone loves. I think people get to know the Marta she shows on social media but the side I know is very special. That’s the side of her that is very selfless, it’s all love.”
As the pair talk and share stories throughout the day, revealing more about the world they share together, they grow to become completely undeterred or unaware of the cameras around them. It acts as a reminder that, now and then, it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness, in pursuit of our personal careers, to just be happy. It’s a lesson you learn almost immediately with Sergio and Marta. The his and hers theme follows them around the room. They need no direction on camera, they need no opportunity to trip each other up, pull a face or fix the other one’s hair. Sometimes everyone needs to relish in a little bit of nonsense.
“A lot of what Marta does touches my heart,” Sergio explains as he pulls up a chair away from the set. “The number of surprise trips that she has made to visit me in Seville and now London are the small things that mean so much. It’s why I enjoy doing the videos too, because everything is done out of laughter and love.”
Sergio’s mission to ‘do more’ away from the pitch has endeared himself to Tottenham fans. Mainly down to his carefree approach on social media. When Tottenham’s players were playing cricket in the gym, he posted a video and simply said: “I don’t get it.” Speaking to The Times, Sergio explained: ‘I try to learn the customs of England and the customs of the players of the sport of my friends in the team. I’m happy to learn with them… but I’m so bad.’ This was followed by Sergio replying with the GIF of Michael Jackson eating popcorn after an argument between Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp and Roy Keane about the quality of Tottenham’s squad.
Given that through Marta’s YouTube channel we gain so much insight into Sergio’s life away from the game, whether that be displaying Sergio’s love of gaming or the couple’s home in London, it’s interesting that Sergio admits the sheer adrenaline rush of football is something that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
“I always talk about this with my friends,” Sergio begins. “The feeling I get with football cannot be compared to any other stage of life, like, that happiness you get when scoring a goal for example, or winning a title, I’ve never ever felt nothing like that. It’s something we’re always chasing constantly, that feeling of euphoria will never leave me.” It’s that sense of immortality, the incessant chase for those feelings wrapped up in the game of football, that connects Sergio with a legion of Tottenham Hotspur fans that, due to COVID, have never seen him play live. But, the way you play the game can be felt across so many different worlds and cultures. Watching Spurs you see the personality of Sergio as a player and a person. It’s the passion, the power and the intensity that enables him to perform at the pinnacle of the Premier League and unwind by livestreaming on Twitch. Over the past year, Sergio admits he has become more grounded and self-aware, he is the kind of person who seems to float above the fray, as if he’s on his own high frequency.
No matter what kind of pressure he’s under, the calibre of opponent he’s facing or the amount of cameras on him, Sergio’s default state is one of unflappable confidence. Meanwhile, Marta is decidedly more unchill. She’s a different energy. Her unbridled joy, the way she bubbles in front of the camera and drags Sergio through their own dedicated TikTok video for the day. It’s the blend of unbridled joy that offers much-needed glimmers of everyday goodness that so many of Sergio and Marta’s fans enjoy. It’s also one of the reasons as to why their relationship has blossomed.
“Over the last year I’ve learned that every little detail is so important,” Marta explains. “After all that has happened it’s vital that we value the little things in our lives; seeing our family and our friends, savouring the moment. I think as things start returning to normality we can all enjoy these things a little better now.
In that time, we have both grown stronger together and are more determined in our dreams. My biggest ambition is to keep growing in every aspect, I’d like to grow as a person and a professional, to make a bigger impact on the world.”
“I have to agree,” Sergio adds, with an absolute determination that he hopes will help him become the best full-backs on the planet. “My biggest ambition right now is to keep enjoying my football, win a trophy with Tottenham and do something big with my country in the summer.”
Sergio and Marta aren’t merely talented or trying to change the world; they’re doing both. They’re the embodiment of all that the next generation has to offer – thoughtful, outspoken, determined, loyal and easily one of the most influential couples on the continent.