Juan Santisteban has won pretty much every international youth honour going as a coach. The UEFA European Under-19 Championship which he won as Ginés Meléndez's stand-in was Santisteban's latest bauble last month - and now he is aiming to lead Spain to their first FIFA U-17 World Cup triumph in Korea Republic.
He has plenty of experience, of course. May’s UEFA European Under-17 Championship victory was Santisteban's seventh title at junior level in his 20-year reign, and at World Cup level his Spain teams reached the 1991 and 2003 finals, pipped by Ghana and Brazil respectively. They start their latest campaign in Korea Republic on Sunday against Honduras, before meeting Syria and Argentina, and Santisteban's talented squad is boosted by the inclusion of inspirational striker Bojan Krkić.
The FC Barcelona man scored the only goal of the European final against England in May, having also claimed the crucial equaliser in the last four versus hosts Belgium - and the year before, aged 15, he was joint top-scorer in the continental tournament. He has been training with the senior Barcelona squad this season ahead of his 17th birthday on 28 August, and has made his international U21 debut but the Spanish Footbal Federation insisted on Bojan's release for the U17 World Cup. "To be honest that was tough," Bojan told fifa.com. "Training with the first team was like a dream come true and what happened complicated things a bit [but] World Cups don't come around very often and it's wonderful to have this opportunity."
Bojan played in Spain's friendly against Colombia on 6 August, past of their training camp at Las Rozas, with Isma López clinching a 1-0 win. However, Santisteban said: "We didn't play well. We'd only been training for a week and you can tell. Bojan played 22 minutes like all four strikers. He's a very important player for us at the World Cup."
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