Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Lamine Yamal: Spain ‘superstar’ makes his mark at Euro 2024 – BBC Sport

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Video caption, All the angles of Yamal’s ‘unbelievable goal’

  • Author, Gary Rose
  • Role, BBC Sport journalist at Allianz Arena

Every so often, a goal is scored at a European Championship that stands the test of time. It is remembered, replayed, and talked about for decades.

Marco van Basten’s angled volley at Euro 1988 is one. Paul Gascoigne’s individual run and finish at Euro 1996 is another, as is Karel Poborsky’s chip at the same tournament.

With Spain trailing 1-0, Yamal curled a brilliant strike from outside the box into the top corner to send him into the history books.

At 16 years and 362 days he became the youngest scorer in tournament history – and had those watching left in awe.

“A superstar is born,” former England striker Gary Lineker said on BBC One. “It was the moment of the match, possibly the moment of the tournament.”

“Just incredible,” added ex-England striker Alan Shearer. “We’ve been talking about him all tournament and saying what a ridiculously young age it is.

“To do that, it’s just outrageous.”

‘A touch of genius’

Video caption, ‘The next superstar’ – pundits praise Yamal

The goal, which had fans inside the Allianz Arena and around the world gasping as it was replayed in slow motion, was all the more impressive because of its timing.

This was at 1-0 down in the semi-final of a major tournament. It was a high-pressure moment, but one he handled effortlessly.

At no stage in the build-up to the heavyweight contest did Yamal show signs of nerves.

He was smiling and joking with his team-mates on the pitch in the hours before kick-off, and carried that confidence into his performance.

“We saw a touch of genius,” Spain boss Luis de la Fuente said of Yamal’s goal.

“We all need to take care of him. I would like him to work with the same humility and keep his feet on the ground, to keep learning.

“He looks like a much more experienced player to be honest. I celebrate that he is in our team, that he is Spanish.

“We count on him and hopefully we can enjoy him for years to come.”

Yamal wants to ‘win, win, win and win’ after ‘dream comes true’

Yamal is now making an impact on the international stage, but he had already rewritten the record books in his breakthrough season at Barcelona.

He became the Spanish side’s youngest starter and goalscorer, as well as the youngest scorer in La Liga.

Giving an insight into his mentality, the teenager said all he wanted to do to celebrate his birthday was “win, win, win and win”.

Whoever Spain face in the final, they would be advised not to provide the youngster with additional motivation, as France perhaps did.

Prior to the game, midfielder Adrian Rabiot said Yamal would need to “show more than he had so far at the tournament”.

At the end of the game, Yamal celebrated by saying to a TV camera: “Speak now, speak now.”

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand said: “It’s almost like Yamal saw Rabiot and his eyes lit up and he said: ‘I’m going to show you.’

“A wonderful finish from a kid so young.”

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Lamine Yamal has a goal and three assists at Euro 2024

Yamal emerged for the post-match news conference at 12:15am, when most other 16-year-olds would be fast asleep, and was asked who his comments were directed to.

“The person I am talking about, this person will know who this person is,” he said.

“It is a dream come true to reach a final with the national team.”

Facing the gathered media, Yamal showed the same level of confidence he had on the pitch.

His focus now switches to Sunday’s final in Berlin.

Asked who he would prefer to face, he replied: “I don’t really mind.

“When you reach the final you have to play the best and they are also very equal games.

“We will wait and play whoever it is.”

Video caption, Highlights: Spain 2-1 France

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