Spain begin the defence of their UEFA European Futsal Championship title in Porto from next Friday. It was expected that the man that led them to victory in the 2001 and 2005 continental tournaments and the last two FIFA Futsal World Cups, Javier Lozano, would be in charge for the finals yet again. But in September he stepped down after 15 years at the helm to join the football staff at Real Madrid CF. José Venancio took over his position – an appointment, Lozano tells uefa.com, that he more than supports.
Are you happy with your decision to change your career?
Without a doubt, because it was well thought-out. It was something I needed because, although I won't deny I often feel a bit homesick, the truth is I needed to take a break. But this isn't a final farewell because in the future I know I will return to futsal. The thing is that I had hit on a routine and I wasn't enjoying it any more. But now I will recharge and I will come back with new strength.
How are things going at Real Madrid?
I’m delighted. I needed to try and test other things and what better place to do that than at one of the best clubs in the world? I feel like a new kid again and that's comforting.
Do you think José Venancio's appointment as your replacement was the best option?
A very good decision and well deserved. Venancio has worked hard to get this far. He's a hard-working coach; he knows the team philosophy and the players and I think he was the best-suited candidate for the job. In my opinion, he's better than me. He only needs greater experience in the new job and that’s something you acquire with time.
Have you spoken to him since his appointment as coach?
Of course. Venancio is a great friend of mine and we speak quite regularly. I now try to pester him as little as possible, but he sometimes phones me and we have a friendly chat. I try to give him the best possible encouragement.
The truth is he hasn’t made many changes from your time in charge…
That's due to two reasons. Firstly, as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And secondly, there's something we can't ignore: there's not much else to choose from in Spain.
Are you still following futsal despite your career move into football?
Of course. Although I have stepped away temporarily in my professional career, that doesn't mean I've lost the passion for the sport.
Will Spain retain the title?
This is sport and you can never make predictions. Logic says that in theory they are the favourites, but after all it depends on small details. This pressure is normal for the team and they know how to handle it perfectly, so I'm optimistic.
Spain's group is very hard against Serbia, Ukraine and Russia – which will be a rematch of the 2005 final…
Well that is both good and bad. The negative point is you can't make mistakes in the group stage because you could miss the semi-finals. The positive is that you have to be completely focused from the start, with no time to relax.
Who will be Spain's main challengers?
As usual, they'll be Russia and Italy, although I would also include Portugal because, as well as being the hosts, they have a great team.
The European champions will be either Spain, Italy, Russia or Portugal.
Do you think there your competitors are catching up with you?
That's a fact of life. Spain has led the development of the sport in the rest of Europe because we believe that for the game to expand we needed a larger number of countries competing at the highest level. It's very positive to have as many candidates for success as possible.
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