Gerard Pique walks into the room and commands it with the same authority as any 18-yard box on the world football stage.
A pair of Stone Island chinos and a plain khaki T-shirt are not the attire usually associated with the boardroom of the United States Tennis Association.
Pique isn’t here in New York, among the oak and mahogany splendour of Flushing Meadows’ inner sanctum, to stand on ceremony.
The Spanish central defender is in a rush – quite literally too because, as he reveals later, his
Barcelona boss, Ernesto Valverde, has already shown tolerance in accommodating his star man’s burgeoning business career.
It’s a whistlestop visit to the US Open for a series of key meetings with players and administrators ahead of the Davis Cup , which takes place in Madrid in November.
Pique’s Kosmos group are behind an ambitious £2.5billion investment over 25 years to
transform the tournament in partnership with the International Tennis Federation.
Until now, the Davis Cup has been right up there with Japanese algebra and UEFA ’s Nations League as easy to understand concepts.
It’s a complex web of divisions and dates that culminates in a final that captures the attention of only tennis diehards and the two competing nations.
Pique’s plan will see it reinvented to an 18-team tournament over a week, closer in structure and atmosphere to the World Cup of football than tennis.
Let’s face it, if anyone knows about how to succeed at a World Cup Final it’s the 32-year-old, who lifted the trophy in 2010 with Spain as well as the European Championship two years later.
It all sits rather proudly with four Champions League gongs (three with Barcelona, one with Manchester United), eight La Liga titles and a Premier League crown.
Pique’s attire may be casual but he is utterly on top of his brief as he backhands stats and figures and serves up commercial projections and revenue indicators on an event that hasn’t caught the imagination of everyone in the sport.
Roger Federer has disparagingly referred to it as the “Pique Cup”. Significantly, however, world No.1 Novak Djokovic is on board, as are Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray.
Pique said: “Andy is one of the best players in the history of this game and all the values
he represents mean he’s a sportsman I really love.
“I’ve seen all he has done and admire all his effort to return again from his hip injury.
“I love the idea of him coming back in Madrid. It would be great news for me and all the team involved in the Davis Cup to see Andy represent GB. I’m sure he will be back to his best.”
Record Sport’s question on Murray segues seamlessly into a discussion of another Scot, Sir Alex Ferguson, who was Pique’s first manager in senior football.
It was once remarked Ferguson’s management skills could easily have seen him become chief executive of Marks and Spencer.
And Pique revealed he’s still a source of inspiration as he builds on his growing reputation as an entrepreneur.
He said: “I know Sir Alex watched Andy win the US Open in 2012 but I remember, even five years previously, he followed his matches a lot on TV when I was at United.
“Sir Alex was like a second father to me when I arrived at the club because I was only 17 years old and I had left my family and friends in Barcelona.
“He helped me a lot and I was so impressed with the way he dealt with the pressure.
“He was our coach but at the same time he was a manager. He controlled the whole club and showed leadership every time.
“I learned from him every day. I’m still in contact with him and when I see him we have great conversations around different things in life.”
Kosmos own a controlling interest in FC Andorra, who currently play in the third tier of the Spanish league.
Pique’s partners in the company include Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Barca’s sponsors Rakuten and Oracle founder Larry Ellison, the seventh wealthiest man in the world.
It’s unsurprising Pique is reluctant to follow contemporaries such as Steven Gerrard into coaching, although he has watched with admiration at the job his old foe is doing with Rangers.
He said: “Steven is obviously a big star and what he accomplished with Liverpool and the English national team was very important.
“The natural step when you finish your career is to go and be a manager and he can bring all his experience and knowledge to the players he’s now coaching at Rangers.”
Pique still has at least five good years left in him but with his missus, Shakira, and two kids, as well as a blossoming business empire, it’s astonishing how he fits it all in.
He revealed he roped in Valverde last year to help him push his Davis Cup proposal over the line but only after offering a guarantee.
He said: “There was a crucial vote with the ITF last August to approve the plans for the Davis Cup. I went to Ernesto in the build up to our Super Cup Final against Sevilla and asked him permission to attend. He was unsure. We won 2-1 and I scored. I went back to him and he said that I was able to go.”