Jorge Vilda, hoping to lead Spain to a third title in four years, speaks to UEFA.com about their tough qualifying group, his rivalry with Germany and working alongside his father.
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Between them, Spain and Germany have won all five UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship titles. Both hope to challenge again in June at the last four-team event in Nyon before the competition's expansion to an eight-nation final tournament with varying hosts.
Jorge Vilda led Spain to their victories in 2010 and 2011, only to fall in qualifying against Germany last year as that country proceeded to claim their third triumph. To make it to the finals this time, Spain must top a tough second qualifying round group staged by France in late March. Vilda tells UEFA.com he is eager to succeed and talks about working alongside his father Ángel.
UEFA.com: What do you think of your draw?
Jorge Vilda: Well, first we've got France who are the reigning champions and are at the forefront of efforts to promote women's football. We'll have to give it everything against them. Then it's Northern Ireland and Finland. I know Northern Ireland are a team that are really hard to break down; they don't give many goals away. Finland are a country we recently met at U19 level and who beat us, so clearly they are developing too.
UEFA.com: How would you assess your first qualifying round performance in Slovakia?
Vilda: We were quite satisfied with our showing in the mini-tournament: we created an absolute abundance of chances in our matches and the only thing missing at times was our finishing. We got 15 goals – we should have scored more – but the main thing was our play got better and better across the three matches [against Group 11 rivals Faroe Islands, Slovakia and Poland].
UEFA.com: Last year you lost your title after playing Germany in qualifying; has that made you more determined to return to Nyon again?
Vilda: It would be great to be back in Nyon for the finals in June, especially knowing it's the last time the championship will be contested there as a four-team event. With Germany on three titles and ourselves on two, that spices things up as well. It would be really nice to catch them, particularly thinking back to the final in 2009 [when Germany beat Spain 7-0].
UEFA.com: Which players that you have worked with at U17 level do you think have the most potential or are already showing it?
Vilda: Virtually all the girls who've been part of the U17 setup are now with the U19s. Perhaps the ones that stand out are Alexia Putellas, Gema Gili, Laura Gutiérrez, and the biggest success – as the first girl to graduate from our U17s to the full squad and an international debut – is Nagore Calderón. You've also got Amanda Sampedro who has trained with the seniors but hasn't yet made it into a matchday squad.
UEFA.com: Is it an advantage to be working in a team with your father Ángel, U19 head coach?
Vilda: When my father and I work together, we try to treat each other like colleagues, but ultimately we're father and son. Observing him in training sessions and at tournaments is a continual learning curve because of what he has achieved in his career – eight years at Club Atlético de Madrid, eight years at Barcelona, three at Real Madrid. You try to take it all in, and I've learned lessons that I'll remember all my life. He doesn't give me any preferential treatment, though, and lets me learn the hard way at times.