Spain's Dani Ceballos relishing second chance at U21 EURO

Dani Ceballos tells UEFA.com he wants Spain to take back the trophy that "was ripped away from us" in 2017.

Dani Ceballos was a runner-up with Spain in 2017
Dani Ceballos was a runner-up with Spain in 2017 ©Getty Images

Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos suffered heartbreak two years ago when Spain were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final.

ITALY V SPAIN BUILD-UP

Ceballos, Player of the Tournament in 2017, moved from Betis to Real Madrid shortly after those finals but a shot at redemption at Under-21 level has never been far from his thoughts. Ceballos pored over the past and present when speaking to UEFA.com ahead of Spain's opener against Italy in Bologna on Sunday...

On Spain's expectations…

Ceballos speaks to UEFA.com
Ceballos speaks to UEFA.com

The team has very high expectations. The entire team has the same clear objective which is to win the tournament and to take home the trophy, something that we couldn't do two years ago. What's most important in achieving that goal is having a good team. I think this is achieved by having a solid foundation, being competitive and having a strong attack. I think all 23 players need to feel important and to take advantage of any opportunity that is presented to us.

On his second chance to win the trophy…

On a personal level, it is a second opportunity. It was ripped away from us at the end of the last European Championship. It was an important moment for all of us. But now we have another opportunity to win it. My role in this team has changed for the better because I am a much better player than I was two years ago, a player with much more experience, which I can pass onto the rest of the team.

For players who are playing for the first time at this tournament, it is really a great and special tournament, but the smallest error can mess it up for you and throw away the possibility of achieving our objective, which is to win the tournament.

On the first game against Italy…

Ceballos was 2017 Player of the Tournament
Ceballos was 2017 Player of the Tournament©Getty Images

We are not looking past Sunday. Italy are one of the favourites to win the tournament. It's like a final preview because Italy has top players playing at the highest level. But we know our strengths and we will have to try and make use of them in order to get the win and edge us closer to the next round. It's added motivation for Spain. Playing against the host nation gives them an advantage, with the backing of their fans, but we're top-level players and have to be used to performing under pressure.

On his international journey…

These tournaments are very important. You get to see the young up-and-coming talents, who are set to have a really bright future in the game. In my case, I've gradually worked my way up and played for the various youth teams and then made my debut for my national team, which was the most extraordinary challenge I've faced in my career. The most important thing for me is that I've worked hard since I was a child to achieve that. I was handed the opportunity to make my debut and my objectives now are to win the Under-21s, continue to improve, become a mainstay of the senior side and be involved at next year's EURO.

On his development at Real Madrid…

Ceballos pictured following his move to Madrid
Ceballos pictured following his move to Madrid©Getty Images

Only a few get the chance to train at Real Madrid and the standards demanded of you are extremely high. The tempo of the sessions leaves you awestruck when you first arrive. I've now become used to it. These past two years have served to make me a better player.

Making my debut for Real Madrid had been a dream of mine from a young age – all the more so when it's in the Spanish Super Cup and against your eternal rivals. As for my first start, against Deportivo Alavés, those were my first two goals for Madrid. That was a special moment in my career.

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