When Verónica Boquete says "I have a lot of responsibility" in the Spain team, she is not exaggerating.
The forward scored 11 goals as they qualified for their first final tournament in 16 years, UEFA Women's EURO 2013, including the stoppage-time strike at the end of extra time in their October play-off against Scotland that sent Spain to Sweden.
Just a fortnight later her Swedish club Tyresö FF clinched the title and it is in her adopted homeland that Spain meet England, France and Russia from 12 July. Boquete spoke to UEFA.com about expectations, her role and responsibility, and what success in Sweden would mean to Spanish women's football.
UEFA.com: What are your expectations?
Verónica Boquete: We go to Women's EURO as the weakest team, because we have only made it to the EURO twice in 16 years [1997 and 2013], and have never participated at a World Cup or Olympics. So we have no pressure. But yes, we think this is the moment Spain can take this step, presenting ourselves to the world as the men's team did.
UEFA.com: How have you enjoyed playing in Sweden? Will it help your team?
Boquete: These last two seasons in Sweden I have grown a lot as a player – on an individual level with my game, and with everything I can transmit and how I can help the team. I feel with Spain now that I have a lot of responsibility. I know my team-mates have faith in me. And when things don't go well, they know that I will try to push the team. It has made me grow and develop further. I think I have become a more complete player, and I try to show this and help the team whenever I can.
UEFA.com: What have you told your Spanish team-mates about playing in Sweden?
Boquete: Above all about the training methods. I always tell them the key is to always train more. We are not used to training as much in Spain – you really can't, because you have to work [in a different job] or you have to study, it's all more complicated. I tell them that here they have the quality, but we also have it in Spain; they just train a lot more here. They are real professionals. That makes the level of play very high.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to you that the finals are in Sweden?
Boquete: To play in Sweden is special. I play in the domestic league here, at Tyresö, and there are a lot of people who know me. So I really wanted to make it here – but more than being in Sweden, I wanted to finally play in a big tournament. I've just turned 26 and I have been playing at one of the best teams in Europe; I have played in the best leagues but I have never played in a EURO, World Cup or Olympics.
UEFA.com: What are Spain's strengths?
Boquete: Our strength is ball possession – the style of play the men had, not winning anything for years before something suddenly changed. We play the same way, we pass the ball well, with a lot of movement and positional changes. I think we can benefit from that, because there are a lot of physically strong teams who don't really like to play. We can go and play football against them; we are a team who can move opponents out of their positions and force them to take decisions.
UEFA.com: What do you think of your group opponents, England, France and Russia?
Boquete: England are very special opponents for us because we have faced them a lot in the last three years – it has always been them eliminating us from [qualifying for] the big events. We have played great matches, but with two draws they eliminated us from the EURO, and [with a win and a draw] from the World Cup.
So this might give us something of a revenge mission. We have great respect for them but don't feel inferior to them. We know it will be difficult, it's always like that, but we have proved we know how to compete against them. Before we just attacked and played; now we know how to compete and how to play them to contain them.
France are the big favourites in this group. I think France have the best options thanks to the football they play. To play them in a group stage will be very difficult. But we're not thinking much about winning, drawing or losing, we're thinking about being and playing at a good level.
Russia have always been difficult opponents. They play very aggressively, they don't let you play, and they are all professional players. They have a professional league and know how to play.
UEFA.com: It is 16 years since Spain last qualified, making the semis. What impact would success have for the new generation?
Boquete: It would be totally different to the great success Spain achieved back then. They achieved something unbelievable, playing a great EURO. I have no memories of that EURO, I know we came third because people told me, but I have never seen any pictures or news of it. This EURO is something completely different. If we managed to achieve something similar, it would lead to a real boom. Many more girls would know that we had achieved something big in Europe. That would help immensely in the change of mentality which is needed in Spain.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.