Lopetegui proud of Under-21s

Julen Lopetegui spoke of his pride in Spain Under-21s’ players for retaining the European Championship with victory against Italy.

A 4-2 win thanks to a hat-trick from Thiago Alcantara and a penalty from Isco ensured La Rojita a second successive UEFA Under-21 title yesterday evening.

“It’s always very hard to win. We were very happy two years ago and we are very happy now, not only with the win but also with the performance and the personality we showed,” Lopetegui reflected to UEFA’s official website afterwards.

“We are very proud of this. We think the most important thing is the players’ belief in the team. They have quality but if they don’t believe in the team it’s very difficult.

“When you win you need to celebrate. We have had a very hard tournament so we are delighted with the win, with the performance and with the personality.

“It was a very hard match for us, so we are pleased.”

Spain had two penalties in the game and saw Thiago take the first and Isco the second.

“When we have a penalty, they are the two options we have and they have the freedom to make the decision. Football on the pitch is about the players.

“All of the team are thinking about [the injured Sergio] Canales and this triumph is also for him.”

Lopetegui commented on the country’s success at Under-21 level also apparent at other levels from Under-19 up to the senior side.

“We have one style and we believe in this style, we work on this style. We have good players who believe in this system, but we know it’s not perfect – in football nothing is perfect – so we keep working and trying to improve.

“But we have good players… If you don’t have good players, it’s impossible.”

Tags 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship La Rojita Lopetegui Spain Under-21s