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England rematch excites Spain skipper Ruiz

  • Spain captain Abel Ruiz excited for Saturday’s final
  • La Rojita beat England to win European U-17 title in May
  • Barcelona youngster in running for adidas Golden Boot

In the countdown to the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, Abel Ruiz told FIFA.com he had been dreaming about winning the world title since the day after helping Spain claim the European U-17 crown. Two months on from that interview, he is now just one game away from making that dream a reality.

“How do I feel? Well, it’s always been our goal, and now that we’re in the final, I can hardly believe it,” said the Spain captain just a few hours before he leads his side out against England. “I feel like it’s happened all of a sudden, but that we need to enjoy it too, and win the game, of course.”

Ruiz was so excited after his side’s semi-final win over Mali that he could barely sleep. “It’s hard because of all the adrenaline that pumps through you in a semi-final,” he explained. “You go to bed and you’re replaying every passage of play in your head – the good bits and the not-so-good bits.”

The No9 scored two of his side’s goals against the Africans. With six in total, he is firmly in the running for the adidas Golden Boot. “The important thing is to win the World Cup, that gold medal,” he said. “If my goals can help us, then so much the better. And if there’s an individual award that comes with it, I’ll value it for what it is, of course. But it’s the team that comes first.”

Very much aware that he and his team-mates are on the brink of making history, the skipper is proud to be a part of Spain’s latest generation: “This is the only title our FA hasn’t won. They deserve it and we want to give it to them.”

So how does he feel about the possibility of becoming a world champion? “Ooof! The word ‘champion’ makes my hair stand on end, especially if you put ‘world’ before it.”

England again!
-The return match: “It’s going to be just as close, as the European Championship final. It wouldn’t surprise me if it goes right down to the wire again.”

The key to victory: “We’ll try to play our usual game, but if it turns out that England have control of the ball and we have to dig deep and defend, then we know how to play that way too. We’ll do whatever we have to do to win. We need to give 200 per cent.”

Did you know?

  • Abel is the youngest of three brothers: “One’s a singer and the other’s a teacher, so they’ve got nothing to do with football.”
  • So how did he end up playing football? “My parents saw that I’d kick anything round, whether it was hard or soft, and so they put my name down with a club in Almafuses, my hometown, when I was three. From there, I went to Valencia and now I’m at Barcelona.”
  • A born goalscorer? “I started out as a centre back, but I’d get on the ball, dribble past everyone and score the goals. When I got to Valencia, they put me up front. It was the right move.”

The captain on his team-mates

  1. The joker: Mateu. He’s always on the go and he does the first thing that comes into his head. He’s a bit crazy (laughs).”
  2. The sleepy head: “Juan Miranda. He’ll fall asleep anywhere if he gets the chance. He loves his bed.”
  3. The big eater: “No one. Nobody really wolfs down their food.”
  4. The shy boy: “Pedro Ruiz. Most of the squad have been together for a couple of years and he’s one of the new boys. He’s adapted well, as time’s gone by though.”
  5. The dressing room DJ: “That’s me! I play La Roja Baila, which is the senior team’s song, more than anything else. We play it on our way to the stadium. It represents who we are.” 
Updated: October 27, 2017 — 4:07 pm

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