introducing… Pablo, Borja & Aritz
We’ve met Bruno before, so let’s talk a little about the other three guys – Pablo, Borja and Aritz (left to right) – who will form part of Spain’s team for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Pablo Hernández is 25 years old and from Castellón, Valencia. He plays for the club Valencia (this is his third stint with the club, counting his days at Valencia B). With regards to his international career, Pablo made it to the provisional list for the 2008 Eurocopa, although he wasn’t named to the final team. In June of 2009, Vicente del Bosque called him up for the Confederations Cup, and Pablo made his national team debut on June 20 against South Africa. His second (and most recent) cap came in a friendly against Austria in November of that year, when he scored the fifth out of the five goals for Spain that day as they defeated Austria 5-1.
In declarations to Radio 9 on Monday, Pablo said, “it’s an honor to be able to share a locker room with such fantastic players… it’s also an honor to be able to play with the national team, because that’s the maximum goal of any footballer, and even more so after a World Cup in which Spain emerged champions… It’s a great day, I’m happy to return to the team and I want tomorrow to come to be able to start the concentración with my teammates.”
He also said that it was a shame that his call-up came at the expense of the injuries to his teammates.
Out of the three, Borja Valero is the one I’m most familiar with, as he’s a product of the Real Madrid youth system, having arrived at the age of 11. He played for the Real Madrid B and C teams between 2004 and 2007. As such, he’s worked with Vicente del Bosque before, during the years when VDB managed the cantera.
Borja is also 25 years old, a midfielder, and from Madrid. He now plays for Villarreal, and also did stints with Mallorca (twice) and West Brom (he’s currently on loan from West Brom). This is his first ever call-up with the (adult) national team, although he did play with La Roja in the youth categories. In fact, Spain won the 2004 U-19 Euro when Borja scored a goal in the 92nd minute to beat Turkey 1-0. [David Silva, Raúl Albiol, Rubén de la Red and Sergio Ramos were also on that team.]
On Monday, Borja echoed Pablo when he said that it was a shame that he was called up because others were injured, but that he was very happy to be recognized. For him, a call-up is “the biggest step” that any footballer can take. He added, “we always say that we’re content with just being able to go, but the truth is that you always want more. We hope that this is just the beginning, and that many more players from Villarreal will be able to join the national team. The fact that five players from this team [Capdevila, Marchena, Santi, Bruno and Borja himself] have been called up shows that the team is doing really well right now.”
Aritz Aduriz is a 29-year-old striker, from San Sebastián, and played with Antiguoko, like Xabi Alonso. His Liga debut came with Athletic de Bilbao, and much like Pablo and Borja, he did several stints with one club, Athletic in this case, and also played for Burgos, Valladolid and Mallorca (where he was a teammate of Borja Valero). He came to Valencia this summer. This is his first ever call-up with La Roja – and he wasn’t expecting it, as he found out about it at Port Aventura, an amusement park where he was spending his vacation.
Artiz’ reaction was as expected: “I’m satisfied and happy, and above all grateful to all my teammates and Valencia, because I’m going thanks to them. Anyone from the team could have been chosen, and it was my turn, but thanks to them I’m going to be with the best, with a team that is the champion of the world.” Artiz added, “I’m very happy just to be called up, because that’s difficult enough. I’m going to enjoy the moment, and if I get any further, great!”