Not one for sentimentality, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will nonetheless enjoy a "satisfying" feeling when he takes La Roja to his home city of Salamanca for Friday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Lithuania.
Despite enjoying immense success since embarking for the Spanish capital as an 18-year-old Real Madrid CF youth team player, Del Bosque still holds in high esteem the place where it all began 59 years ago. "I don't want to say that Salamanca has always been a bit out of the way in terms of football, but being close to Madrid geographically it's been hard to find its way onto the map of the national game," the former midfielder told UEFA.com.
"The Lithuania match [on 8 October] will help shed a positive light on my city, for it to be appreciated. The national federation president understood that, which is why we will play there. We are very happy about that, but we know our focus is to continue progressing towards qualification for Poland and Ukraine."
The process of Spain defending their UEFA European Championship title started with last month's 4-0 triumph in Liechtenstein, yet a heavy friendly defeat in Argentina recently raised questions as to whether the side that have won it all can retain their hunger after so much glory.
"Anyone who believes that, in a career as short as a footballer's, you can stop after winning titles, thinking you have won it all, is totally wrong," he said. "
To live off the past is no good for anyone. Future success depends on the players and their attitude; it also depends on us as coaches, of course.
"We can't rest on our past successes and stop there, we have to look ahead and the next objective is Poland and Ukraine. First we have to qualify for the tournament and then, if possible, fight for the title."
Admitting he felt "very proud" to receive special praise from UEFA president Michel Platini at the 9th UEFA Conference for European National Team Coaches in Madrid last month, Del Bosque went on to explain why winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup was the fulfilment of his life's work.
"I was very happy to have succeeded after taking on such a responsibility. It crowned a life completely dedicated to football. Becoming world champions, all my thoughts at that moment went to all those people who formed you as a player and coach, all the people who helped you.
"For years Spain produced lots of great footballers and generations of footballers which, for different reasons, didn't achieve much on the international front. They won European Cups with their clubs and played excellent football, but the luck they missed with the national team then, we have had now in 2008 and 2010."
Against Lithuania, Del Bosque will be seeking his 33rd victory in 37 internationals at the helm of Spain and, with fixtures against Scotland and the Czech Republic to come in Group I, the coach reckons his team have the right mix to flourish again. "We have quality players and good organisation while I think the team spirit is very good. These are the fundamentals for success," he said.
"All the players have their individual skills and great potential. The important thing is to be united as much as possible and to move the ball around well, to develop the game and to find the right balance. Then, last but not least, to be able to score goals."
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