Name Dropping, the morning after
What you should know about FIFA – that’s the football World Cup, which you couldn’t watch last night, but want to sound smart about, at the office water-cooler today.
Yes, Express has your FOMOF covered. That’s Fear of Missing Out (on) Football.
Here’s your name-dropping check-list for Day 4, November the Twenty Third, Spain vs Costa Rica
In a match where Spain scored their 100th goal in World Cup history apart from scoring the highest number of goals in a World Cup encounter with seven goals, against Costa Rica, 18-year-and-110-days old Pablo Paez Gavira created history by becoming Spain’s youngest player to play in World Cup.
Seventy four minutes into the match played at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Gavi would become the third youngest goal scorer in the history of the FIFA World Cup behind Brazilian legend Pele and Mexican Manuel Rosas. While a 17-year-and-239-days old Pele scored against Wales in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Wales in the 1959 World Cup quarter-final, Manuel Rosas had scored against Argentina at the age of 18 years and 93 days in the 1930 World Cup.
In a match, which saw a pair of teenagers in the form of Gavi and Pedri starting for a European team for the first time in World Cup match since 1962, the diminutive Barcelona midfielder would make the commentators talk about the Brazilian legend’s feat in 1958 and Gavi’s showstopping performance on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Gavi had talked about his admiration for Pele in a football show titled Futbol Emotion on YouTube. Asked about his favourite players, Gavi said, “Messi, Iniesta and Isco. I have got others like Zidane, Maradona and Pele. I hope I can be like him (Pele) one day and win everything too, but I try not the think about that and be myself,” he had said.
Spain were completely dominant in the match, enjoying 73 percent possession. Gavi scored the team’s fifth goal, a fine volley to beat Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, 19 years older than him.
Hailing from Andalusia, a young Gavi was recruited by Barcelona scouts for the La Masia Development Academy before he was given a professional contract by the club in 2020. One year later, the midfielder made his debut for the senior side against Getafe and has since featured in more than 60 games for the club.
But it was his call-up to the Spanish senior side that set the football world abuzz with the talks about Gavi. The five-feet-six-inches tall midfielder became Spain’s youngest player to play for the senior side when he made his debut against Italy at the San Siro, breaking an 85-year-old record earlier held by Angel Zubieta.
Zubieta played for Spain at the age of 17 years and 284 days while Gavi played for Spain 62 days post his 17th birthday. “In the three or four spells I have seen him, and it is only three or four, he had left me in no doubt that he can be a very important player for the future not just for Barcelona but also the national team. We are talking about a case that’s not normal. He plays as if he was on the patio at home. It’s a pleasure to see a player with that quality and personality. Those of us who know him already know what he’s like. He doesn’t surprise me,” Spain coach Luis Enrique said after the match against Italy last year.
A year before his international debut, in 2020, Ansu Fati, aged 17 years and 311 days, had become Spain’s youngest goal-scorer when he scored against Ukraine to break a 95-year-old record earlier held by Juaan Errazquin.
In June earlier this year, Gavi broke Fati’s record, which last 637 days, with a goal against Czech Republic at the age of 17 years and 304 days. Spain won the match 2-0 to top the group in the Nations League. Enrique once again applauded the youngster and compared him to a volcano. “When Gavi is on the field, he is like a volcano erupting. It’s hard not to fall in love with him. Everybody wants to see him play. It’s impossible that there was a single fan at the La Rosaleda who didn’t enjoy seeing him play. He can play between the lines like no one else, he is always in a good position, he is fearless, can score, pass, defend..,” Enrique said.
If Spain manages to qualify from the group E, which has come alive after Japan’s win against Germany, Enrique would need the likes of Gavi to help La Roja’s cause in the World Cup.