POSTED UPDATED WITH MORE PICTURES & FUN MOMENTS!
La Roja is back together again! On the agenda for Wednesday: meet at Las Rozas, receive some honors from the CSD, training session in the afternoon (which I’ll write about later), and just hanging out together and enjoying each other’s company.
Picture via Fer’s twitter…
The Spanish national team gathered at Las Rozas on Wednesday morning, with Santi Cazorla the first to arrive at around 10h, half an hour before the deadline, and Álvaro Negredo the last to arrive, 20 minutes past the deadline. Jordi Alba was one of the most sought after by the media at the Ciudad del Fútbol, as this is his first ever call-up with the national team. Jordi said, “for any player, it’s a dream to be part of the senior national team. It’s a great joy for me. I’m happy to be here with all these players… being here is the maximum. I come to learn as much as possible.” By the way, Raúl Albiol and David Silva were seen “taking care” of Jordi throughout the day.
On the fashion front, however, Jordi was a disaster. He wore pants of a dubious color, topped by a grandfather cardigan. Compare to say… Xabi Alonso, who looked super elegant and effortlessly cool with his button down shirt, jeans and Ray-bans. I love the way the sleeves are casually rolled up. Actually, that’s not very fair to Jordi, as this is first ever call-up, and at Valencia, he had shared a locker room with the likes of repeat offenders David Villa and Raúl Albiol.
Speaking of Albiol, the jeans are AWFUL! The most devastating thing I can say about them is that they’re on par with some of the jeans that Iker wears, so you know they must be hideous. At least he wore a plain top, because I don’t think I can handle a shirt with anything on it matched with those jeans. Meanwhile, his twin and Gerard Piqué had the same idea: graphic tee and jeans, which is not surprising, as they own some of the same shirts, as do Gerard and Cesc, of course. I love how Carles Puyol decided to avoid the press by going behind the barrier!
As for Iker, he showed up carrying a whole bunch of bags, including some from the Real Madrid store (he couldn’t have been handing out party favors, so I wonder what was in them). I liked it better when he was carrying them in front of his chest, as they blocked that awful t-shirt he had on. And hallelujah, Iker got a real bag! Not a purse, a real bag, though it is kind of on the large side. Never mind, baby steps. Baby steps.
Pepe showed up in the Pepe bag, which you know I love, and Fernando Llorente in a shirt that matched his eyes, which I also love. Fernando Torres was already at the residence, so he was wearing his official La Roja wear, and I have nothing bad to say about that. However, I will say that I don’t like Xavi’s shirt. Despite what you make think, that “vest” is actually part of his shirt. And the back is light blue with writing! There’s writing on the sleeves too. By the way, in these pictures, the boys are signing a charity calendar for cystic fibrosis made up of drawings of them.
My two favorites were Javi (!!!) and Sergio. I didn’t particularly like what Javi (!!!) was wearing – the nicest thing I can say is colorful – but since I’ve already had a lot of practice picturing him without his clothes, he looked fine to me! And Sergio, with his great hair and for once a plain top and the cooperative wind, looked fantastic.
Once the players had all arrived and changed (thank goodness for that, in the case of most of them), the team headed to INEF to receive the Gran Cruz de la Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo (VDB) and gold medals (the World Cup-winning players, minus Iker and Xavi) from the Consejo Superior de Deportes (the Spanish government’s sports organizing body). They were presented with the distinctions by the Infanta Cristina. Here are the players waiting to go up on stage (they’re standing in alphabetical order), and those who didn’t receive the honor because they weren’t part of the World Cup team or because they already have the medal: Iker, Xavi, a sleepy Santi, Negredo, Thiago and Jordi Alba.
VDB received the honor not only for winning the World Cup as the Spanish national team head coach, but also for his days as a footballer and coach, with Real Madrid. During his time as a player, he played 18 times for Spain, and won five Ligas and four Copas del Rey with his club. As coach of Real Madrid, he won two Ligas and two Champions Leagues. The Infanta Cristina had a bit of trouble putting the blue sash on the coach, which made VDB a bit nervous, but he kept his calm, as he always does.
As for the players, those in attendance included those called up for these next two games: Albiol, Xabi, Arbeloa, Busquets, Silva, Llorente, Javi (!!!), Mata, Sergio, Piqué, Puyol, Reina, Torres, Pedro, Valdés and Villa, as well as Navas and Marchena, who weren’t part of the call-up (hence the suits). They went up in alphabetical order by last name, so the A-team was together, and Silva was under “Jiménez.” Those not in attendance but receiving the medal were Cesc, Iniesta and Capdevila. Javi’s (!!!) hair makes him look so young, no? And Fer and Álvaro are so photogenic!
Afterward, Navas said, “we’re all very happy, it’s another award and recognition for what was achieved last year in South Africa. I’m happy to receive this award and to be with my teammates again.” Meanwhile, David Villa said, “being amongst athletes and receiving this distinction from the hands of the Infanta Cristina is something all of us are proud of.” Looks like Villa is still avoiding the hair gel. And don’t Sergio and Puyol together look like an ad for the before and after of a hair iron or something?
UPDATED PART: Here a couple of more pictures from the ceremony. The players couldn’t look more bored as they waited…
… but when they went up to collect their medals, they were more animated, especially Piqué, who reserved his biggest smile for the Infanta Cristina.
In the audience, Iker was busy taking a picture to post on Facebook, while Xavi looks like he’s wearing eyeliner, no? And those are some groomed eyebrows! To their left, Thiago and Jordi shared a joke; I like Thiago’s quiff!
And here are the two best moments from the ceremony: the Infanta Cristina having trouble putting the sash on VDB, VDB coming to the rescue and the infanta giving up. Meanwhile, Matilde García Duarte, the woman to the left of the infanta and director general of sports at the CSD, gave dos besos to only one of the players: her old friend Xabi Alonso. Good choice, no? And who can blame her?
In other news, Fernando Torres was already in Madrid on Tuesday, presenting his new boots at El Corte Inglés. There, he was asked about his presence on the national team, to which he responded “right now, it’s difficult to be called up and start games,” since there are so many great Spanish footballers at the moment, adding that “each time I go to the national team, I hope to play.” He also revealed which goal is the most important one of his career: “the goal in the final of the Eurocopa is the one that fills me with the most excitement and affection. It was a perfect shot because it ended in a goal, although after that came an even more perfect one, that of Andrés.”
In an interview with Marca, Fernando Llorente was asked something similar, about being called up by the national team, even though he’s not in top form at the moment. In response, Fernando said, “being on the national team is incredible, the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m very grateful to the míster, for continuing to have confidence in me and for calling me up again. It’s an incentive to keep on working and doing things well with my team, which is in the end what gives you the possibility of being called up with the national team.”
Meanwhile, PF Juan Mata spent his days off in Asturias, visiting his family in Oviedo and going out to eat with friends in Gjión. He must be happy to be able to spend a few days in Spain!
As for La Rojita, they’re already in Croatia for the U-21 Euro qualifier after training the past two days in Madrid. After a training session on Tuesday – with VDB, Toni and the U-17 team as spectators – they flew to Osijek, where they’ll play their third qualifier on Thursday at 20:30h in their quest to defend the U-21 Euro title.
Also on Tuesday, Álvaro Vázquez received his silver boot, which he got for scoring five goals in the U-20 World Cup this past summer in Colombia. He expressed his gratitude “to all my teammates, the coaching staff, the fisios, the equipment managers… without all of you, it wouldn’t have been possible!” Pictures below via the boys’ twitters.
On Wednesday morning, they took a walk around Osijek. Álvaro and Jordi are so cute together! And they’re always together!
As for the tribute UEFA has prepared for Zubizarreta, Iker, Xavi and Raúl, the only Spaniards to have played more than 100 games with the Spanish national team, with 126, 124, 103 and 102 games, respectively, the RFEF is looking for the best date to do that. If England is able to avoid having to play a playoff series for the Eurocopa, then the ceremony could take place before their friendly in Wembley on Nov. 11 (La Roja will also play a friendly in Costa Rica on Nov. 15). The four honorees will receive a black cap with a gold border with their name embroidered on the visor and a commemorative medal. UEFA had wanted to do this before the game in Alicante on Tuesday, but since Scotland is still fighting for a place in the Eurocopa, they decided to wait, out of respect for the rivals.
Meanwhile, the RFEF isn’t planning anything special for Iker in Alicante, where he should tie Zubi for most games played with Spain, as they also prefer to wait until next month. By then, Iker should be the sole holder of the record. The RFEF is also planning other tributes and recognitions, though they haven’t revealed who or what, but Fernando Torres, Marcelino and Iniesta should be honored for scoring those goals that brought titles to Spain.
As for other players close to breaking the 100-game barrier, we have Carles Puyol, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, David Villa and Fernando Torres.
Posted on October 5, 2011, in interviews, la rojita, players and tagged alba, albiol, arbeloa, del bosque, iker, javi, llorente, marchena, mata, navas, pepe, piqué, puyol, sergio, silva, thiago, torres, villa, xabi, xavi. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.