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Bellerín buzzing as Spain get started

A late Spain call-up, Héctor Bellerín is delighted to have cancelled his holidays, telling Graham Hunter: "If you'd asked me a few weeks ago if this were possible I'd not have believed you."

Héctor Bellerín was a late replacement for Dani Carvajal
Héctor Bellerín was a late replacement for Dani Carvajal ©Getty Images

It is one of the most famous stories in the history of international football that in 1992 the Danish team were dispersed and on their holidays before being asked to take the place of Yugoslavia and going on to win the UEFA European Championship against Germany in Gothenburg. 

A feeling which Héctor Bellerín can now begin to understand, having been handed the most last-minute of opportunities to emulate Richard Møller Nielsen's side and make history by helping Spain claim a third straight European crown.

The Arsenal right-back, fresh from making the English Premier League XI of the year, had other plans entirely. "I was about to head off on holiday for the summer when one of my family phoned me," he told UEFA.com.

"They told me that Vicente del Bosque had announced in a press conference that I'd be training with the group. To be with a provisional squad, instead of on vacation, was already a massive honour.

Bellerín admits EURO call-up shock

"But after the misfortune Dani Carvajal had in the Champions League final, the boss said that I'd be his replacement. Well, if you'd asked me a few weeks ago if this were possible I'd not have believed you."

Bellerín is here at the team's headquarters on Ile de Re on merit. Fantastically quick, blessed with terrific technical skills and totally adapted to life in London, the 21-year-old is young but cosmopolitan and experienced. Spain's future. And their present too.

Beyond his evident excellence there's another little factor as well, as the holders prepare to meet Czech Republic in Toulouse on Monday. A colleague of both Petr Čech and Tomáš Rosický at Arsenal, the defender can inform Del Bosque and his fellow Spain players about his club-mates' strengths and weaker points.

Watch Spain win the UEFA EURO 2012 final

"Petr, for us at Arsenal, is one of the most immense pluses we could have had this season. He's got the Premier League record for clean sheets," Bellerín explained.

"He makes you feel safer with him behind you. He'll be as important for the Czech Republic. He's perhaps the best goalie I've ever seen and he's helped me grow in experience by chatting to me and sharing things in Spanish.

"Tomáš is one of the most intelligent players around, but because of his injuries people underestimate him. But his intelligence, his ability to find space and his crossing definitely make him one of the players we have to fear.

"Rosický orchestrates the midfield and he's a great player who's quick on the ball and really clever, so we know we have to be very wary of him."

But maybe this tournament should be wary of Bellerín. After all, the 1992 final was won partly thanks to another Arsenal man, goalscorer John Jensen, who thought he was going off on his holidays but ended up a champion of Europe.