The locker rooms of United and Barça are also different, Piqué says. At United he recalls being terrified as a 17-year-old when Roy Keane went on a tirade after Piqué's cellphone merely vibrated one day. Barça's locker room is a more joyous place, he says, where right back Dani Alves dances to his Brazilian music, Messi cracks wise with his dry humor, and Piqué and fellow defender Carles Puyol act as court jesters. If you ask Piqué to name his favorite locker-room prank, he tells you that it took place on the Spain team, when he and Puyol filled the squad's milk bottles with potato puree to play a trick on midfielder Cesc Fàbregas. "So Cesc opened the bottle and started to drink the potatoes," Piqué says. "He went crazy! We were laughing so hard for days and days."
Piqué knows that the real trick, though, is for Barça and Spain to maintain team spirit despite the pressure to perform constantly at the highest level. The way Barcelona is going, it has a chance to someday be considered among the greatest teams of all time. "We'll have to see in five or 10 years," Piqué says. "Now you can't say this is the best team ever, because we have a lot of things to do and we have to win more titles. One team can have five, six, seven years of glory, maybe more. But there is one day that some players have to go, some players are old and don't perform as they did before. And when that time arrives is when you can say this team was great."
He's right, of course. So for now let's just say that Piqué and his teams are awfully, awfully good.