hopes for Joaquín
This summer's EURO 2004 finals will mark the 40th anniversary
of Spain's only major triumph at international level. The
winners of the 1964 European Championship have been waiting a
long time for a second piece of silverware.
17 February 2004
winger Joaquín Sánchez may not have been born when the stars
of '64 lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy, but he knows the
burden of expectation which lies on the shoulders of Iñaki Sáez's
squad and is determined that Spain should do their reputation
justice in Portugal.
"We are going to Portugal with many dreams," he told
uefa.com. "There are some very strong teams in the
tournament but we know that we have a very good side and have
the opportunity to do very well in Portugal. We have the
support of the Spanish people and we hope to repay that
support with a good performance."
While Spain remain one of Europe's most extravagantly gifted
teams, they struggled in qualification, finishing as
runners-up to Greece in their group and only progressing to
the finals after a two-legged play-off victory against Norway.
However, for Joaquín, the extra stress may have had its
"We made life difficult for ourselves in the qualifiers
but we showed a lot of character to perform well in the
play-offs and this has helped us to have more belief in what
we can achieve this summer," said the 22-year-old, who
made his first major bow in international football at the 2002
World Cup finals.
Spain's next challenge will be taking on Peru in a friendly
game on Wednesday as the pressure builds ahead of EURO 2004.
The Real Betis Balompié player admitted that he did not know
much about the Peruvians but maintained that bonding together
as a team is the aim of the game.
"I see this fixture as a good chance for team
building," Joaquín said. "There was so much
pressure on everyone for our last few qualifying games but now
we have a chance to enjoy playing with one another and that's
why I think it is important to have these friendlies."
Certainly, as the final tournament approaches, Spain will have
little chance to relax. With a reputation for spectacular
failures at major tournaments, the pressure is on Sáez's men
to show their worth - especially with the tournament being
staged so close to home.
"When we get to this kind of tournament we have not, in
recent years, come away with the final prize," Joaquín
said diplomatically. "This competition will be one of the
best opportunities we will have to win a major tournament. We
are mentally focused and very optimistic."
However, despite rumours that he would soon be joining former
Sevilla star José Antonio Reyes in the English Premiership,
Joaquín was quick to deny that he had any interest in using
EURO 2004 to showcase his skills to other clubs. "My only
objective is to win all of our games, get to the final and win
the competition," he said.
"The most important thing is the Spanish team and showing
the world that we play good football," Joaquín added.
"For myself, as for every player, tournaments like these
are a great opportunity to show what you can do to the rest of
the world, but I'm not looking to move teams so this is not my
motivation." - Julia