Spanish football has enjoyed many memorable moments in recent years and the success shows no signs of abating following the latest feats of the nation's women's Under-17 side and their U19 male counterparts.
The UEFA European U19 Championship title secured on Monday evening, along with that of the UEFA European Women's U17 Championship won barely 24 hours previously, will represent proud additions to the swelling trophy cabinet at the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). The double triumph caps a remarkable summer in which Luis Milla also guided his charges to UEFA European U21 Championship glory in Denmark.
Renowned the world over for their youth development model, Spain's long-term philosophy has started to bring tangible reward; at senior level, victory at UEFA EURO 2008 preceded last summer's FIFA World Cup success. Those involved in Spanish football therefore find themselves being continually pushed to reveal the secret behind the country's winning formula.
"The key is the work that is put in by the [RFEF] in every region of the country," coach Ginés Meléndez explained after Spain wrapped up their fifth U19 crown by beating the Czech Republic 3-2 after extra time. "These players join us when they are 15 and are taught to play within a specific framework which doesn't change throughout the age groups; it lasts right up until they enter the senior set-up."
Edgar Badia, the U19's first-choice goalkeeper, echoed his coach's comments, telling UEFA.com: "The philosophy and style we are told to play is the secret. We know that if we stick to that philosophy it will help us to continue to grow and improve as players. It seems that Spain are dominating the football world at the moment and we are so happy to be part of that success."
Leading his charges towards UEFA EURO 2012 qualification at a canter, senior coach Vicente del Bosque – who previously declared his desire to win "EURO, World Cup, EURO in that order" – reinforced the importance of schooling talent at an early age. "The players we have at our disposal now came here already knowing how they needed to play," said the former Real Madrid CF trainer, who was also keen to warn against complacency.
"These are wonderful times but we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted. What has been achieved up until now will always be remembered but we must keep focused on what is ahead of us. It's nice to remember and to celebrate victories but at the same time we have to prepare for our future."
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