Spain have faith in schoolboy Lamine Yamal to lead way back to glory

Last tournament winner standing Jesús Navas hopes new generation will end drought as squad finally start to gel

Rotterdam, this time last year. In the Nhow hotel on Wilhelminakade, overlooking the river Maas, Jesús Navas has just been asked the simplest yet deepest question of them all: what was it like? And so he tells them, a group of players gathered round as if he were a grandad in a rocking chair, only he’s still running. “It was incredible,” he says. “I told them about the World Cup. About the goal. How we celebrated. We were all there, hairs standing on end. And that gave us the energy to face the final.”

That evening at De Kuip, Spain won the Nations League, beating Croatia on penalties. It may not be a major tournament – for some it is barely a tournament at all – but it was something and it was a start. For the first time in 11 years, the selección had lifted a trophy, reacquainted with a feeling slipping further into the past, one few of them had felt. Which is why they had asked, Dani Olmo starting the conversation; it is also why, 12 months on, there is a glint in Navas’s eye. This is not solely nostalgia, it is now.

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