Mention football to Spain captain Amanda Sampedro and she brims with passion; having starred in Spain's opening win against Serbia, she spoke to UEFA.com about just that.
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One of the undoubted stars in Spain's impressive opening performance against Serbia was dynamic midfielder Amanda Sampedro, who captured the imagination as she orchestrated play with a number of incisive and probing passes. Sampedro spoke to UEFA.com about her idols, the responsibilities of captaincy and dispensed some invaluable wisdom regarding the future of the women's game.
UEFA.com: Congratulations on last night's result. What was your verdict on your performance and the team as a whole?
Amanda Sampedro: After spending the past two weeks training for this tournament in Madrid, we are all performing very well. Physically I am feeling very strong because of the preparation before, and in the run-up to the tournament as well as all the work I did with my club. All that contributed to us putting in a very driven, energetic performance against Serbia.
UEFA.com: How does it feel to captain your country?
Sampedro: It's a very nice experience because with the armband you are representing your country and your team-mates. But it is also a burden that you have to carry because the captain is the one who has to stand up and take most of the responsibility. But my team-mates make it easy for me to be the captain. It's something I carry easily and I'm very proud to be captain of this team.
UEFA.com: What inspired you to start playing football? Where did it all begin?
Sampedro: I started playing because of my dad, who instilled the game in me from a young age. So even from six years of age I had put my name down for the school team. From then on I kept playing football with the boys and then Atlético de Madrid came along and signed me and I have been playing for them ever since.
UEFA.com: Do you have any particular idol who you would like to emulate?
Sampedro: Of course you have great players like [Cristiano] Ronaldo and Lionel [Messi] and you aspire to play like them. But a player who has always meant a lot to me because he's from Atlético, is Fernando Torres. He's had a difficult time recently with Chelsea but everyone knows, particularly us Spanish, what a great player he is and he proved it at EURO.
UEFA.com: How can the women's game continue to develop?
Sampedro: First and foremost in Spain, the women's game has to become more professional. Particularly important is that the media give plenty of coverage to the women's game, that they put it on television or cover it in the major newspapers even it is something small. Sport dailies like AS and Marca that have large readerships are very important. It needs to be taught more and people need to start valuing the women's game on an equal footing to the men's.