When the referee sounded the final whistle on Sunday to confirm Spain’s qualification for next year’s World Cup finals after a nerve-racking 1-0 win over courageous Sweden, it was the name of teenage sensation Gavi that home fans chanted.
Spanish supporters in the crowd of 51,000 spectators at a sold-out La Cartuja stadium were finally able to celebrate after the late strike by Alvaro Morata that ended Sweden’s hopes of dominating Group B and Pablo Martin Paez Gavira, nickname of Gavi, was Seville’s toast. 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 the Spain jersey 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 title. in the World Cup 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 this kind of performance. He played a huge game like he was in his backyard. He’s got a lot of personality, ”added Luis Enrique of the teenager, who has started Spain’s last four games.
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 won the round of applause from the man of the match. He had 91 touches, 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 – the most number of Spanish players in the qualifying campaign.
“When a manager decides to bring someone who is only 17 years old to a national team, it’s because he knows what he can bring to the table,” added Luis Enrique. “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.”
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