When the referee blew the final whistle on Sunday to confirm Spain’s qualification for next year’s World Cup finals after a Angry 1-0 victory over brave Sweden was the name of a teenage sensation Gavi that the local supporters chanted.
Spanish supporters in the crowd of 51,000 at a sold-out La Cartuja stadium could finally celebrate after Álvaro Morata’s late strike ended Sweden’s hopes of dominating Group B and Pablo Martin Paez Gavira, Gavi’s nickname, was Sevilla’s toast.
Gavi’s rapid rise
Less than two months ago, the youngster had not even started a game for Barcelona. Today, five weeks after becoming the youngest player to wear Spain at 17 years and 62 days, he is the symbol of the new generation of ‘La Roja’ who will try to win Spain’s second World Cup title next year in Qatar.
“Gavi was born to play football”, Spain coach Luis Enrique told reporters after Sunday’s victory. “He’s a beast. It’s not normal for someone his age to have that kind of performance.
“He played in a huge game like he was in his backyard. He has a lot of personality. Luis Enrique added about the teenager, who has started all of Spain’s last four games.
Spain reserves its ticket for the World Cup
The Spaniards started the game against Sweden needing to avoid defeat to secure a place at Qatar 2022 and Gavi’s performance was praised by his teammates, fans and the media as he earned the man of the match applause.
He had 91 keys, more than anyone on the pitch. Gavi has also won 10 of 15 tackles, succeeding with 92% of his passing attempts and in five of his eight dribbles – most by any Spanish player during the qualifying campaign.
“When a manager decides to bring someone who is only 17 to a national team, it’s because he knows what he can bring to the table,” Luis Enrique added.
“I don’t think he’s ever played in front of over 50,000 spectators before and you’ve all seen the game this kid played. He won’t surprise anyone again. I repeat, he was born to play football. “