Spain midfielder Saul Niguez spent a lot of time thinking about his absence of playing time at the World Cup but is ready to move on.
Saul made just three appearances during World Cup qualifying for La Roja and watched all four matches of their turbulent campaign in Russia, which ended with a last-16 penalty shoot-out loss to the hosts, from the bench.
However, the 23-year-old Atletico Madrid star was handed a starting berth in Luis Enrique’s first match since being appointed coach and scored as Spain overcame England 2-1 in the Nations League at Wembley.
Having also been left out of the squad for Euro 2016, Saul is ready to do his utmost to help the national team moving forward.
“It’s not the time to talk about the past. I thought about it a lot in the summer, but I do not think we should talk about it anymore because it doesn’t matter,” he told a news conference before a clash with Croatia in his hometown of Elche on Tuesday.
“I had an unforgettable experience, I contributed what I had to contribute. In the European Championship I was out of the team and I realised many things – if I do well for my team, things will come.
“I don’t know if I’m essential for the national team. I feel important at Atletico. Everything I do is for the good of my team, it doesn’t matter about me being important in the national team.”
¡Hora de entrenar! Empezamos con unos ronditos hasta 20…
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) September 9, 2018
A new era has started in midfield as well as the dugout for Spain, with the victory over England their first match since the international retirement of Andres Iniesta.
Saul acknowledged it will be difficult for the current crop to emulate Spain’s achievements with Barcelona maestros Iniesta and Xavi in midfield, having won successive European Championships either side of the 2010 World Cup.
“Xavi and Iniesta are the history of our national team, they made us the best in the world,” said Saul.
“Now a different midfielder is coming in, but the philosophy they represented with Luis Aragones was the beginning of a new era.
“It will be difficult to repeat what they did, but we will try to win some titles.”
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