Spain striker David Rodríguez Sánchez's disappointment at his side's 2-1 defeat against hsts Portugal in the final of the 2003 UEFA European Under-17 Championship may have been tempered somewhat by the fact he finished as the tournament's top scorer by a huge three-goal margin.
Only England's James Milner and David's compatriot Cases with three each got anywhere David's six-goal total, which was bolstered by an astonishing four strikes in his side's 5-2 semi-final victory against Austria. Interestingly, David did not begin the tournament as an automatic first-choice selection, sitting on the bench for his side's opening 2-0 win against Italy until the 62nd minute. Given a start in the next game against Israel he scored the second goal in a 3-0 win but returned to the bench for the 2-2 draw against England.
In the semi-final against the Austrians his inclusion from the start was justified by first-half hat-trick, and when he was replaced in the 68th minute he had added a fourth goal to make it impossible for coach Juan Santisteban to leave him out of the final. In the Viseu showpiece David hauled Spain level with the Portuguese at 1-1 two minutes after half-time with a superb header, but could not ultimately prevent his side losing 2-1. Nevertheless the deceptive power, lethal eye for goal and quicksilver pace that David demonstrated throughout the tournament made him a hot commodity.
Indeed, comparisons were made between David and another former star of Spain's youth ranks, David's Club Atlético de Madrid cub mate Fernando Torres, then 19 and scorer of the winner in the 2001 UEFA European U16 Championship final. "Raúl [González], [Andriy] Shevchenko and Torres are the players I look up to," David said. "But please don't compare me to him [Torres], I haven't achieved anything yet. I've still got a long way to go. I'm looking to improve step by step."
He had, though scored 27 goals for Atlético's reserve side in 2002/03, justifying high hopes for his future. Of course, with Torres in the Atlético first team, his way to senior football has was blocked but finally made his top-flight bow in 2009/10 with Almería. Meanwhile, his brother Sergio was on Spain's winning U17 team in 2007.
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