You can be just as Basque as Javier Clemente, but more Basque than you are impossible. He has also been a selector. Therefore, will Spain be welcome in Bilbao?
I have no doubt: most of the people of Bilbao will support the national team in their matches in San Mamés. There will always be one to protest, but I think most people, most of the city, will be with the team.
Did Villar be right to propose Bilbao as a Spanish headquarters at the Euros?
He was right to bring the tournament to the Basque Country. Athletic is one of the historic clubs as well as the most, and San Mamés a unique and special stadium. For the club it is a historical thing, a worldwide recognition. And I think it’s going to be a very important thing for the city, too. I, as a Basque, lover of football and Athletic, would like everything to work out. In San Mamés football is respected, and at the Euro it will be no different.
What do you expect from the team game?
I’m a little waiting, honestly. Because during the qualifying phase there have been everything, good times and others not so much. There have been two selectors, with different criteria, who have put different teams. Now Luis Enrique is back, who sure will key and ride a block before the tournament. He knows how to do it, because he learned it with me.
What is it that worries you most about what you’ve seen in the qualifying phase?
Spain has repeated very few team, and many players of different characteristics have appeared. He’s played well at times, but he’s lacked regularity. The trajectory of the team has been in saw teeth, and it may be precisely because of these changes on the bench and the lack of continuity in the calls. But as I say, Luis Enrique still has time. The main job you have to do is to get a base and work with a clear line.
Does playing all three of the group’s matches in San Mamés make the national team a favorite?
That may give some advantage in what is the qualifying phase, but then the hardest will come: the playoffs. And finally the decisive week, in London, where they await the semi-finals and the final. Starting locally can be a small advantage, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Here what counts is the end result.
Do all the connoisseurs stand out fabian as the player who can unbalance the balance in favor of Spain, does he share that criterion?
He’s a good player… but one won’t be enough. It will take the mix of youth and talent, which is what Fabian has, with the experience of players like Sergio Ramos or Busquets. The important thing is to make a block and make the team competitive. You can have good players, but if the block doesn’t compete you’re on the go…
Is there a secret to getting it?
The usual: try to score when you have the ball and prevent them from doing it when you lose it. To put it that way it seems easy, but it’s not. For that to work you need to all be engaged, which is how you get the level of competition. If the group works, the computer works.
Any advice for Luis Enrique?
Nothing, he already knows what he has to do. I had him in the national team and he was always one of the committed. Luis Enrique will know how to group and take the national team and everything around it well. What I wish you is luck, which is also necessary.
What selections do you see favorites?
England, Germany, France, Italy…, and Spain if it gets it right. Then there is another selection that has two or three great players: Belgium. And I also like Croatia, which already surprised at the World Cup.
Which players stand out?
From Belgium, De Bruyne, I like very much for the way you understand football. France has Mbappé, who is the most talented player in speed in the world. That makes him unique. It’s good to see you.
And Cristiano Ronaldo?
I suppose it will be Cristiano’s last Euros and it will do very well what it has always been able to do: many goals.
Will we see Clemente at Spain’s matches in San Mamés?
Of course, Javier Clemente and so many Athletic fans who always know how to appreciate good football in La Catedral. We’ll be there.