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Kike relives Spanish Futsal EURO memories

Published: Saturday 6 July 2013, 13.18CET
Five-times UEFA Futsal EURO winner Kike looks back at his trophy-filled career with Spain and says: "Futsal is no longer a sport of the future, it's a sport of the present."
by David Baño
from Nyon
Kike relives Spanish Futsal EURO memories
Kike is interviewed at the play-off draw with the trophy he lifted for the last time in 2012 ©Getty Images


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Published: Saturday 6 July 2013, 13.18CET

Kike relives Spanish Futsal EURO memories

Five-times UEFA Futsal EURO winner Kike looks back at his trophy-filled career with Spain and says: "Futsal is no longer a sport of the future, it's a sport of the present."

Kike made this week's draw for the UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 play-offs but, for the first time in 15 years, that will be as close as he gets to taking part in the event.

I believe futsal is no longer a sport of the future, it's a sport of the present

The Murcia FS defender retired from internationals last year after Spain's epic 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup final defeat by Brazil. He had helped Spain lift that trophy in 2000 and 2004 before a penalties loss to Brazil in the 2008 decider, while his UEFA European Futsal Championship record is even more impressive – victories in 2001, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012, with his sole blemish a 2003 semi-final reverse against hosts Italy. Indeed, only goalkeeper Luis Amado has registered more Futsal EURO appearances – or won as many titles – and at the draw in Nyon, the 35-year-old Kike looked back on his career. How has the tournament changed since 2001?

Kike: I was very young in 2001. There are many differences from a sporting point of view. The game itself has evolved a lot, technically, tactically and physically, but I think the major difference between 2001 and 2013 is on a organisational level and from a professional perspective. The evolution has been huge.

I believe futsal is no longer a sport of the future, it's a sport of the present – it is no longer looking for its position, as everybody understands it has become an important sport and that comes from the structure that has been created. UEFA has obviously helped develop it and I have been lucky to live through that and I feel privileged by that experience. What motivated your decision to retire from international futsal?

Kike: It was a difficult decision – a hard decision to make after 15 years with the Spanish national squad and having been part of the golden generation of Spanish futsal, but it is important for a player to know when the end is, to be able to say stop. It has been a well-informed decision, taking into account the opinion of the people close to me. I have always thought it was important to retire when you still have something to give and to be aware that your time is passing and you need to make way for the next generation. I'm absolutely convinced they can do even better than us. Where did you find the motivation to keep winning having already won everything?

Kike: I've always thought that the feeling of winning is something unique and beyond words – and you always want to experience that again. But beyond that, the Spanish futsal squad have had an additional responsibility – it has been about the way we've won, by respecting our opponents, respecting the game; the responsibility to carry on growing yourself to help your sport carry on growing. All that has helped us go into any tournament wanting to do well and win again. Among your many victories, which was the most important to you?

Kike: It has been 15 years and so many moments to remember. You always remember the victories, your first cap, the first time you wear the shirt and listen to the anthem; and then the last time, the day you take off the armband for the last time. But if I had to choose one moment from the past 15 years with the Spanish squad, I think all those who were involved would pick the [2000] World Cup final in Guatemala. It was a truly historic day – the first time Spain beat Brazil in a competitive match, the first time there was a world champion other than Brazil. It was the result we had been waiting for. I did not play but I had the chance to experience it live and nobody will ever forget that day, 3 December 2000. Who are your tip for Antwerp 2014?

Kike: Now I'm retired, I will be able to experience the event from the outside, but I think the standard is higher and higher, the teams are very even, the matches tighter and that makes it difficult to have one favourite. There are many teams performing at a high level – you could see that in the last World Cup and the last EURO in Croatia. Italy, Portugal, Azerbaijan, the host country, Russia – who are at a fantastic level – but if I have to name a favourite I hope it will be Spain.

Last updated: 17/01/14 16.01CET

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