When Celia Jiménez left Andalusia for studies in the United States she assumed her international career was over – she could not have been more wrong.
In Iowa she received a welcome call from home: it was newly appointed Spain women's Under-19 coach Jorge Vilda saying he wanted her in his squad. Jiménez smiles at the recollection. "The national team means a lot to me – I've been representing Spain since I was 14 and have never missed a training camp," said the right-back. "Being a captain brings greater responsibility, making sure the coach and players are on the same page. It can be a hard job sometimes but it is cool and I'm really proud to do it."
Spain endured a disappointing start to the UEFA European Women's U19 Championship in Norway, losing 1-0 to debutants the Republic of Ireland. Jiménez puts it down to nerves, especially in the first period when her side struggled to play their own game. "In the second half we found our way, enjoyed a lot of possession. We passed the ball around and created chances to score. This is how we will have to play our other matches now, right from the start."
First up are a Sweden team who opened their Group B campaign with a 2-0 victory over England. "We know them well, they are strong at the back and they are dangerous in offence, too. We will have to give it our all and I'm confident that if we play how we can, we can beat them. We are not looking beyond the next match and are fully focused on getting the three points. All the squad is excited to be in Norway, at a European Championship, and we will do our best to stay here."
That is especially true of the 19-year-old Jiménez: she knows this tournament could be her last. "When I came here and started to practise with the team I was really, really excited," said the aerospace engineering student. "When I go onto the pitch and touch the ball I just think about having this opportunity to play for the national team. I don't know if I will ever have this opportunity again so I have to make the most of it."
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