Football: Coach De la Fuente calls up Barcelona youngster Yamal to Spain squad. Image Source: IANS News
Madrid, Sept 1 : Spain coach Luis de la Fuente has handed a debut call-up to 16-year-old Barcelona winger Lamine Yamal for Spain’s forthcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Spain play in Georgia on September 8, before facing Cyprus in Granada four days later on September 12 and Yamal looks certain to play some part in both games.
The youngster, who only turned 16 in July, is in line to become the youngest-ever player to play for Spain, while at the same time ruling out playing for another country, reports Xinhua.
Although Yamal was born in Spain, his father is Moroccan and his mother is from Equatorial Guinea, with Morocco reported to have been in contact with him over possibly representing his father’s homeland.
“He is different, and we haven’t looked at his age, we look at his ability and he is ready to play,” said De la Fuente.
The Spain coach has also maintained Aymeric Laporte in his squad but warned that in the future, players who move to Saudi Arabia “would have fewer chances” of playing for Spain, due to the level of competition in that country.
The coach also distanced himself from his apparent support for suspended RFEF president Luis Rubiales, after his applause for Rubiales’ speech a week ago in which he refused to resign for his kiss on the lips of Jenni Hermoso in the celebrations after Spain’s Women’s World Cup triumph in Sydney.
“Given the impact of my applause, I want to take advantage of this space to explain myself. I have received harsh criticism for it and it is totally deserved and I apologize for it,” said De la Fuente, who said he went to last week’s “assembly convinced that we were attending a formal ceremony for the departure of a president [Rubiales]. “These gestures do not represent my values or my way of acting. I will always be on the side of equality and respect”.
“I was a bit overwhelmed by the situation and I wasn’t at my best,” lamented De la Fuente.