Ansu Fati has had a difficult past couple of years, having had to go through multiple injury ordeals that needed surgery and an extended period out on the sidelines.
Having returned to full fitness this season, the 20-year-old has had to suffice with a reduced role in the Barcelona setup under Xavi Hernandez as the manager has been reluctant to rush him back and risk more injury issues.
It led to question marks over his selection in the Spain national team for the FIFA World Cup 2022, but manager Luis Enrique decided to back the young forward and took him along to Qatar.
Fati, who has not played much for La Roja at the tournament, recently sat down for an interview with Mundo Deportivo and spoke about various things related to Barcelona and the national team.
The 20-year-old’s appearance against Japan was his first for Spain in a competitive setting in two years. Talking about how he felt at that moment, he said: “It felt very good. It’s an honour every time I play for the national team to try to give my best and enjoy this opportunity.”
Speaking about having to be patient to make a return to the national team setup, he added: “In the end, there are many top players and we all have to be ready because the coach will need all of us and we must be ready.”
The Barcelona forward then spoke about Luis Enrique and the confidence the manager had shown in him by putting him on in a critical moment when Spain were in a losing position against Japan, saying:
“As I said, you have to be prepared because you never know what the coach is going to decide. For those of us who are on the bench, it’s just as important to live the game intensely and stay focused because you don’t know when the coach is going to call you. Then you have to be ready.
“For me, everything that means getting more minutes, all the better. What I like is to be on the field.”
At one point, Spain could have been eliminated from the World Cup, if Costa Rica had gone on to defeat Germany. When asked if he was aware of that situation, Fati said:
“As far as I was concerned, no, I didn’t realize it. We knew we had to win and that’s what we set out to do, although in the end, it wasn’t to be.”
On how the team is reacting to the defeat vs Japan, he revealed: “I see the teammates well, the group is fine. We lost the last game and it leaves you with a bad feeling, but we are happy to have made it through. We are in the round of 16 and now what remains is: either you go on or you leave.”
Talking about the knockout phases, he added: “Now it’s do-or-die and the players are focused on that. We’re going to give our best to get through to the next round.”
Discussing the moment when he learned about the call-up for the World Cup, Fati said: “I was training at the Ciutat Esportiva, watching it on TV. When I heard my name last I was very happy. I was with some teammates who saw my happiness and with the physios, with whom I was able to celebrate.”
On whether it was a just reward after everything he had gone through over the past couple of seasons, he said: “That is, for everything I have been through in the last two years. The truth is that it is the reward for the day-to-day work, for trying to improve myself. And now that I am well, it has been a great reward, yes.”