Santi Cazorla: Q&A
It’s that time again: the European Championships are closing in...?
Yes. It’s nice to be involved in the Spain squad – a privilege. Every time I get called up, I try to do just one thing: enjoy every minute. But it is hard to get into the team. You can’t make assumptions about playing.
Is Euro 2012 more special because you were injured for the World Cup?
Yes. The World Cup was an espina clavada – a thorn in my side. But you have to look at it from a positive point of view and it’s lovely that the coach has continued to trust in me since South Africa. He called me up immediately for our first game that summer and that was a great emotional boost for me. It was a difficult time and it meant a lot.
Not going to South Africa must have hurt. When they won it, did you secretly think, "You b******s!"?
No! I was really happy for them. But it is true that you think how much fun would it be to be there. You think, “Madre mia, what I’m missing out on here!” I would have loved to have been there. I’d returned from injury and played the final month of the season hoping that I could make it, but the truth is that I’d already started to get used to the idea.
Are Spain favourites this summer? Everyone thinks so...
Any team that has won the World Cup and the European Championship inevitably gets that pressure loaded upon them but we have to live with that and we have earned it too. It will be hard.
So who else worries you?
At a European Championship there are always lots of good teams and the familiar names: France, Italy, Germany, Holland. Sometimes you see teams that might not look like they are at their best but when it comes to the tournaments, they're always there – they have that competitive ability.
England? You lost at Wembley...
Pepe Reina speaks highly of Steven Gerrard. Then there’s Wayne Rooney, obviously. He’s fundamental.
What lies beyond 2012 for Spain?
One of the great things about the seleccion is that it has found an identity, a way of playing. The way we play has been reinforced by success. You look at the seleccion and with every passing day the idea is clearer: players who are good on the ball, who are technical. It’s all about the ball, touch, passing, possession.
Can that continue once players like Xavi, Iniesta, Silva and you retire?
The future is secure because the young players are pushing hard. Look at Isaac Cuenca, Cristian Tello and Isco, who has surprised us all at Malaga – he's good enough to be in the senior team now – and there’s Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao.
Interview: Simon Talbot. From the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.