Barcelona teenager Gavi has been compared to Italy and Roma legend Francesco Totti after an impressive international debut for Spain in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Azzurri in the Nations League semi-finals.
The youngest made history during the game, becoming Spain’s youngest ever player, and played a key role as Luis Enrique’s side inflicted a first defeat on the Azzurri in 37 games.
Former Italy international and Barcelona midfielder Demetrio Albertini spoke about Gavi after the match and thinks he can already be compared to Totti, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“Gavi is an exception, he is Francesco Totti, let’s call it that. But in Spain there is a training course that also includes the second teams, where talent is compared with experience,” he said. “A talented player can be seen immediately, there they have courage and give the opportunity, without fear.”
Albertini knows plenty about young talent and also reminisced about when he first moved to the Camp Nou in 2005 from Italian side Atalanta. He added, “When I arrived at Barcelona – remember – I was introduced to Messi as a cantera player (the youth team). Like him others, starting with Puyol. We are talking about people who then wrote the history of world football.”
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Gavi ‘Didn’t Expect To Be a Starter’
It’s certainly been a whirlwind start to the season for Gavi who has been fast-tracked from the team’s Under-19 side into the first team and then thrust onto the international stage.
Gavi was handed his Barcelona debut by coach Ronald Koeman in the team’s 2-1 win over Getafe in La Liga in August and made his first start for the team less then a month later in a goalless draw at Cadiz.
Spain coach Luis Enrique’s decision to include Gavi in his Spain squad for the Nations League Final Four was a surprise and more eyebrows were raised when the 17-year-old was named in the starting XI.
It seems no-one was more surprised than the player himself who admitted after the win over Italy he “did not expect to be a starter” against the Azzurri, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
Gavi also spoke about his pride at becoming Spain’s youngest ever player at the age of 17 years and 62 days, breaking the record previously held by Ángel Zubieta.
“I am proud to be the youngest player in history [of the national team] and represent my country and above all with victory. It is a dream to listen to the anthem,” he added, “I have always dreamed of reaching the absolute.”
Gavi’s Father Says His Debut ‘Will Stay With Us Forever’
Gavi’s family also spoke of their pride at seeing the youngster represent Spain for the first time. His father Pablo Martin Paez told Deportes Cuatro it was a very proud day for the family, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
He said, “I am very happy: It has been a very special day. I have felt a lot of pride. It is something that will stay with us forever.” Gavi’s sister Aurora added, “We didn’t believe it, really. It was a surprise.”
Gavi could pick up his second cap on Sunday when Spain go for glory in the final of the Nations League. Luis Enrique’s side will play the winner of the second semi-final between France and Belgium at the San Siro.