It was a little over 12 years ago when Vicente del Bosque led the Spanish national team to their first-ever FIFA World Cup triumph in 2010. Two years later, under his tutelage, La Roja went on to win the UEFA Euro 2012 as well.
But following poor runs at the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Euro 2016, Del Bosque decided to step down from the role and announced his retirement.
Now 71, the World Cup-winning manager recently chatted with Mundo Deportivo, during which he spoke about the current Spain national team and their chances in Qatar, while also discussing young prospects like Gavi and veteran stars such as Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.
Starting off, the former Spain and Real Madrid boss admitted that he was following the World Cup very closely and was watching almost every match. When asked which game had been his favourite until this point, he picked the 1-1 draw between Spain and Germany.
Talking about the evolution of the Spanish national team and their chances at the World Cup, Del Bosque said: “There has been a clear generational change, and the level is in line with that of our league, which is in a good moment.
We are tactically well organised, playing well and we should be hopeful for the present and the future. Always with moderation, with caution, but we have a good team.”
When asked for his thoughts on national team manager Luis Enrique, the 71-year-old said that he was the best man for the job at the moment.
“Well, everyone has a father and a mother, no two are the same and everyone acts as they should, for me, he’s the best coach there is at the moment.”
Talking about the players from the Spain setup who had impressed him, Del Bosque name-checked Barcelona trio Gavi, Pedri, and Ferran Torres, saying they merited a place in the national team because of their quality and not just their age.
“Many of them are very young and I think it is a national team in which the coach has taken the players he thinks are the best, but being young just for the sake of being young is not a merit,” he said.
“There is something behind it. Gavi, Ferran, and Pedri are good and they don’t play because of their age but because of their merits.”
When quizzed about Gavi, in particular, Del Bosque said: “You have to look back and see that if he is in the national team it is because he has played for Barcelona before. And if he plays for Barça, he must have something. Those who have put him in the squad know why.”
Del Bosque then spoke about Lionel Messi and Argentina, who booked their place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Poland last night. The former Spain boss insisted that the 35-year-old remained the best player in the world and that Argentina continue to depend on him.
I don’t think anyone can argue with the enormous quality he has and what a great player he is. Messi is still the one who has brought them out of poverty. They depend on him,” he said.
Del Bosque had banked on Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets in the 2010 World Cup, when the midfielder was just 21 years old.
When asked how he sees his former ward now, the ex-Spain boss lavished praise on the veteran star, saying
“I see him as always, with a confident performance. Some will like him more than others but I think he’s still in the same vein as he was then and always a solid player, ready to defend, build and help the team at all times. I think he has all the qualities to be a reference midfielder.”
When asked if he sees Busquets as a future manager, he replied: “Of course I do, I think he’s got some very strong concepts, from the past and the present.”
Speaking highly of Busquets’ Barcelona and Spain teammate Jordi Alba, Del Bosque added: “He has also been one of our heroes and I am very fond of all of them
The current Spain squad consists of as many as eight players from Barcelona. When asked if such a thing can become an issue for the national team, Del Bosque responded by saying that it can bring an advantage
“On the one hand, it is better. In our time there were times when five Liverpool players played the leading role, another year it was Valencia who contributed the most, another year it was Madrid, other years it was Barcelona,” he said.
“The most important thing I have done is not to look at the shirt or where the players were born, but to bring in the players I thought were the best.”
Del Bosque also gave his thoughts on Barcelona manager Xavi, who was part of his team in the World Cup and Euro 2012 triumphs.
“I thought he was going to be a coach, that he had a sense of what he wanted for his team, there’s no doubt that he has ideas and we have to respect that. I have no nostalgia for the past or prejudice against anyone,” Del Bosque said.
“I wish everyone well, him and also Xabi Alonso now that he has started the Leverkusen adventure. I wish all former players who take up coaching the best for themselves.”