Morata named Spain captain
The Atlético striker relieves Sergio Busquets of the captain’s armband: “I’m proud to captain Spain. We have a fantastic group and we’ll fight to the death,” he said.
At the age of 30 and in the prime of his career, Álvaro Morata has been appointed Spain’s new captain. Three of the players who wore the armband at the last World Cup (Busquets, Koke and Jordi Alba) do not feature in Luis de la Fuente’s first list as Spain coach. In line with tradition, the player with the most caps at international level takes over captaining the side and Morata, with 61 appearances, is the most experienced member of the squad.
Not so long ago, there were half a dozen footballers who had surpassed 100 caps for Spain, but they have all since retired from international football, the latest being Sergio Ramos. “I’m happy. I am proud to be the captain of the national team,” says Morata, who added that his mission is “to help newcomers settle in and serve the team.”
De la Fuente called three players to inform them that they would not be in his squad list - all of them have worn the captain’s in the past, Koke and Jordi Alba most recently and Sergio Ramos, who recently announced he would be retiring from international football. Ramos’ last appearance with La Roja was as a late sub in the 3-1 win over Kosovo in March 2021.
Rodri (39 caps) and Dani Carvajal (33 caps) will be the other two captains alongside Morata. The Manchester City midfielder made his senior debut for the national team four years after Carvajal, but has played a more prominent role since then while the Real Madrid right-back has missed a number of games due to injury or technical decision.
There are several players in the Spain squad who are older than Morata and who have more experience in the captain’s role as they are skippers at their respective clubs. Examples include Iago Aspas (35 years old), captain of Celta, and Nacho (33), assistant captain of Real Madrid. But the general rule in the national team indicates that it must be the player with the most caps and Álvaro Morata beats them all.
“Any of us could be captain because we are a fantastic group, but it was my turn. I have learned from the best - both in the national team and in the clubs in which I have played. The important thing is to make the newcomers feel good, integrate them into a magnificent group in which we are all going to die to achieve our goals,” the Atlético Madrid forward explained.
Future at Atleti
Morata now wants to focus on Spain’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Norway and Scotland. But this week he also spoke about his future at Atlético, which has been complicated by the arrival of Memphis Depay. The striker is well though of in Italy with his former club Juventus considering bringing him back if Vlahovic departs this summer. Morata is under contract until the summer of 2024 at Atlético and for the moment, is in not too preoccupied about what might lie ahead. As he said, the priority is to “ensure Spain qualify for the Euros”.
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