Saul Niguez insists he has got over his World Cup no-show for Spain ahead of Tuesday’s ‘very special’ Nations League clash with Croatia.
Saul failed to make any appearances for Spain in Russia as they crashed out at the last-16 stage, but the Atletico Madrid midfielder scored on Luis Enrique’s debut in a 2-1 win against England on Saturday.
“Luis Enrique asks me to be the player I am, contributing to the team with my runs into the box, nothing out of the ordinary,” he said at a Press conference.
“I’ve received many displays of affection. Tuesday will also be special because I’ll be playing at home in Elche.
“I’ve asked for several tickets and hopefully I get them! My family and friends will be at the game. It’ll be a very special night for me.
“It’s not the time for me to talk about the past or why I didn’t play at the World Cup.
I gave it a lot of thought over the summer, but I don’t think we need to talk about it anymore because it doesn’t matter whatsoever.
“I lived an unforgettable experience in Russia and contributed what I had to contribute. I didn’t take it badly. If I do well for my club, good things will follow.
“I’m not a crucial player for the national team, although I feel important for Atletico. Everything I do is for the good of the team. Whether I’m important in the national team isn’t up to me.
“We all know Rakitic and Modric. Croatia have a great midfield and it’ll be very difficult to beat them.
“Xavi and Iniesta make up the history of our national team. They’ve been the best in the world and now different midfielders come in.
“We had a great time under [Luis] Aragones and now we’ll try to repeat it, even if it’ll be complicated.”
The 23-year-old was then asked about Antoine Griezmann’s exclusion from the three-man shortlist for The Best FIFA Men’s Award, despite the Frenchman winning the Europa League and World Cup.
“I hope he goes up for the Ballon d’Or instead,” he added. “He’s had a magnificent year and won trophies.”