Life Beyond the Premier League: Javi Venta goes from Villarreal to Griffin Park infused with passion of Pellegrini

Life Beyond the Premier League

When two survivors of Villarreal's Champions League adventures under Manuel Pellegrini seven years ago finally left the Spanish club this summer, one of them – midfielder Marcos Senna – headed for the Big Apple to help restart the New York Cosmos franchise. The other, Javi Venta, chose a rather less flamboyant destination: Brentford.

If that sounds something of a comedown for a player whose only previous appearance in London had been a Champions League semi-final against Arsenal in 2006, you would never guess so from hearing the 37-year-old's enthusiasm about life at Griffin Park. "It has surprised me, especially the atmosphere and how people live their football," says the full-back, brought to west London on a 12-month deal and impressed particularly by the "professionalism" of the League One club. "No club in Spain at this level has everything Brentford does – the medical staff, coaches, facilities, organisation. The ground and the atmosphere, all of this helps you."

If these comments reflect well on the comparative health of our lower divisions, they highlight also the positivity around a club showing no signs of a hangover from last season's traumatic finale, when Marcello Trotta's injury time penalty miss against Doncaster cost them automatic promotion before defeat by Yeovil in the play-off final.

"They've not really talked about it," says Venta, whose move to England was motivated by several factors, including a longstanding curiosity about English football – he nearly joined Bolton once – and the proximity of clinics specialising in the muscular condition that afflicts his young daughter.

He was one of 10 players recruited by Brentford for another tilt at promotion in a busy off-season, which also saw the club submit to Hounslow Council a planning application for a new 20,000-seat stadium at Lionel Road, west London. His fellow new faces include Northern Ireland striker Will Grigg, who scored twice in an impressive 3-1 home win over Sheffield United a fortnight ago, and loan forward Conor McAleny, who has trodden a path from Everton already successfully taken by Adam Forshaw and Jake Bidwell.

"There are many young players here and my first impression is they've got a lot of potential," says Venta "One of them asked me what it's like playing against Messi at the Nou Camp. There are players here who could perfectly go on to the Premier League."

An injury to Bidwell gave Venta his League One debut as a substitute at Gillingham last Saturday, when Farid El Alagui's last-gasp equaliser kept the Bees unbeaten. A first league start now beckons against Walsall tomorrow, though he acknowledges that his job is not limited to what he brings on to the pitch. Just as when helping Villarreal win promotion to La Liga last term, Venta is there to set an example. "[Manager Uwe Rösler] thinks I can help the team a lot by bringing my experience and talking to the youngsters, letting them see that to get to the top level you have to be consistent and work hard every day.

"Last year the club were very close [to promotion]," he continues. "I like the way they play, and the ideas the coach has got. They're serious about their work and this leads to success. At Villarreal over many years I saw the club grow and hard work is the key."

Venta spent a combined nine seasons at Villarreal, over two separate spells, and was one of the players who "had to work hard and run hard" while the likes of Juan Roman Riquelme and Diego Forlan produced the magic that took the modest-sized club to the Champions League semi-finals under Pellegrini. Venta recalls a "very direct" communicator when asked about Manchester City's new manager. "Pellegrini is a coach who has clear ideas and gets across clearly what he wants. Whoever we played, we had a clear plan. His idea is to play good football and keep the ball."

The parallels between Villarreal and his new club may not seem obvious but there is one thing they have in common. For Trotta's final-day spot-kick nightmare, read Riquelme's last-minute penalty at El Madrigal saved by Jens Lehmann as Arsenal defended a 1-0 first-leg lead in that semi-final.

"I was pleased to have got that far with a team like Villarreal and deservedly so by playing good football," says Venta, "but in the semi-final we had chances and especially that penalty at the end. You go back over the game, remembering the chances. It was painful." At Griffin Park, they can certainly empathise with that.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy