Men’s Olympic Football Tournament
- Perez gained gold with Spain on the Barcelona Olympics in 1992
- Former striker says participating was very particular and thrilling
- La Roja face powerful problem from Argentina at Tokyo 2020
For legions of sports activities followers in Spain, the Olympic Games maintain some very fond reminiscences, which is hardly shocking in nation the place swathes of the inhabitants are historically glued to their TV units anytime a compatriot takes half.
And whereas this has produced a host of memorable moments down the years, some clearly stand out from the remaining. In the latter class is unquestionably the gold medal gained by its footballers on the Barcelona 1992 version, when, after many years with out a main title, La Roja lastly gained large.
Who may overlook the sight of a Camp Nou packed to the rafters for the that remaining on 8 August 1992 or that of the whole workforce piling on prime of Kiko Narvaez after he netted the winner within the 3-2 triumph in opposition to Poland?
Images like these are etched on the reminiscences of Spanish followers and all the time spring to thoughts when the Games come round. “Immense joy and excitement are my abiding memories overall. A full stadium, a final, everyone there… it all worked out perfectly,” Alfonso Perez, a member of that gold-winning aspect, tells FIFA.com.
Just two and a half months earlier than Tokyo 2020 will get underway, we chatted to the 48-yr-previous about a triumph that marked a technology of gamers and a nice most of the nation’s followers, who lastly noticed La Roja excel at a large competitors after a troublesome summer time during which they’d sat out EURO 1992 in Sweden.
Known as La Quinta del Cobi, (Cobi’s Quintet – in reference to the Games’ Official Mascot) a number of members went on to take pleasure in stellar careers and land main titles, together with Pep Guardiola, Kiko, Santi Canizares, present Spain coach Luis Enrique and Alfonso himself. That mentioned, winning gold will all the time have a treasured place.
“It’s like lifting the Champions League or a World Cup. I’ve won league titles and the Copa del Rey, but having an Olympic gold medal around your neck is something beautiful, commendable and exhilarating. It’s significant because it’s hard to achieve, with the tournament only played every four years,” says the previous Real Madrid, Barcelona and Real Betis striker.
A footballer can expertise nice moments throughout his profession, however participating within the Olympics is particular – much more so in the event that they’re on residence soil, as Perez confirms: “I have very good memories of it, as it was a very special edition. It was a very young side, made up of guys already playing in the top flight and who were lucky enough to win gold.”
What makes the Olympics particular
While Spain has often loved nice Olympic moments, the 1992 gold was completely different and the beginning of one thing important.
During a month during which the whole nation was engrossed within the video games after which particularly on the soccer event, it might show to be a triumph that will stay lengthy within the collective creativeness and assist change the nation’s footballing mentality: “We had to win it. We’d always had a good team but translating that into successes had not been easy at all. The pressure we faced came from playing at home. It was a good side and so everyone expected great things from us,” he says.
Because of the age limitations within the Men’s Football Tournament, participating might be a as soon as-in-a-lifetime alternative for a participant, one thing that imbues the gold medal with even higher worth. “It was a very special tournament and a unique opportunity. We were expected to really go for it and get the gold. In contrast to a EURO or World Cup, which you can play in multiple times, competing at an Olympic Games happens just once in a lifetime.”
The Opening Ceremony and crossing paths with stars from different sports activities additionally helps make the Games really memorable for these participating, and this is exactly how Perez remembers it. “We were all in our uniforms, parading around a packed Olympic stadium. You saw athletes from all over the world, huge stars, like NBA players and other gold medallists. Walking side by side all these people you’ve seen on TV left a big impression on me.”
Argentina the workforce to beat
Although the extent of soccer on the Olympic Tournament is probably not fairly as excessive because the World Cup or continental championships, it would all the time be particular: “I’d tell any young players taking part to savour the experience, as it’s a really nice competition. You get to go to another country, to experience another culture and different food, and see other facilities. It’s an experience you’ll never forget,” the Getafe native tells FIFA.com.
This yr, Spain have a proficient technology hoping to reprise the glory days of 1992. At Sydney 2000 La Roja needed to accept silver and also will be eager to make up for his or her absence at Rio 2016. Despite that motivation, Perez warns that the duty is not going to be simple: “We’re in a complicated group, with Argentina the standout team. They have a special mentality, are very competitive and love to win. They’re a global powerhouse, a team to watch for and always in contention. They pose perhaps the biggest threat.”
The Spaniard signed off with a message to everybody participating, no matter their self-discipline. “The Olympic atmosphere is very different. You’ll meet athletes from many diverse sports and events, unlike at a EURO or World Cup, where you rarely leave your team base. Whether you win a medal or not, it’s an experience that you should enjoy to the full. Taking part is important for any young athlete, just for the sake of doing it.”