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EURO glory spurs on Spain's Raúl García

Captain Raúl García believes Spain can look to their senior counterparts' UEFA EURO 2008™ triumph for inspiration as they strive to recapture the Under-21 crown after a frustrating wait of eleven years and counting.

Spain captain Raúl García in training in Gothenburg
Spain captain Raúl García in training in Gothenburg ©Sportsfile

Raúl García believes Spain can draw on their senior counterparts' victory at UEFA EURO 2008™ as they look to reclaim the UEFA European Under-21 Championship title after a wait of eleven years.

'Extra motivation'
Champions in 1986 and 1998, by their own high standards Spain have endured a fallow period in recent times – indeed this is their first final tournament at this level since 2000. Yet their captain is adamant that last summer's success in Austria and Switzerland can spur the U21 side to glory in Sweden. "We're very proud Spain won that tournament last summer, it's extra motivation for the squad. We know that if we perform well here we can win this tournament as well – and that would give us greater pride," said Raúl García, who was similarly bullish when asked about that nine-year absence from the finals. "This team really believes in itself. We didn't come here just to play football, but to win the tournament."

European experience
Spain might have struggled to make an impact at the U21s but they have had no shortage of success at youth level, with four titles collected in both the U17 and U19 competitions since that 1998 triumph. Indeed, eight of Juan Ramón López Caro's 23-man squad have already tasted European glory at various age levels and Raúl García believes his team-mates have the know-how to add this crown to an ever-growing pile of trophies. "We are really confident," he said simply. "We know we have a good team, but we also know this competition is very strong. Our main intention is to win the tournament and we'll fight for that."

'Fight to win'
A man of few words and concise statements, when asked how he imagined how the opening match against Germany might pan out, Raúl García responded: "I don't imagine how the game will be; I know how it will be. It will be very tough, a physical game in which we will have to fight until the very end. Being the first game of the tournament it's always important to perform well." He was similarly straightforward when it was put to him that, after a long season for club and country spanning almost ten months, fatigue could be an issue. "We've been trying to qualify for these finals for two years," he said. "There's no question of us being tired – we will fight to win this tournament."