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Exclusive – Unai Simon: I never expected to be called up to Spain national team for Qatar 2022 World Cup by Luis Enrique

Unai Simon has said in an exclusive interview that he never expected to be called up to the Spanish national team.

Simon, the goalkeeper for Athletic Club and the Spanish national team, was talking before the 2022 World Cup as part of the new Warner Bros. Discovery series, World at their Feet.

The timing of the Qatar event – it being held during the European winter – has drawn widespread criticism, but Simon still expects a high level.

“It’s going to be nice, although they are rare dates,” he said.

“The leagues of each country have played a lot, but there will be a very high level because the players are in full competition – normally at this point in the season is when the highest peak of performance is often reached.”

It will be his first World Cup at the age of 25, and he is Luis Enrique’s undisputed number one, after having played every minute of the Euros.

However, Simon admits that a few years ago he didn’t even imagine wearing the national team shirt.

“I didn’t even count on being called up,” he said on World at their Feet.

“Suddenly, one day they call you up. After two months you play your first game, the following summer you’re playing at the Euros and two years later a World Cup.

“Football and life go very fast, and if you stop to think about it, it’s when it hits you. So you try to enjoy those moments and take advantage of them.”

Last September, Enrique became the Spanish coach to give the most debuts as national team manager – 31 in total – with Borja Iglesias and Nico Williams the latest players to get the call. He has used 60 players during his tenure.

“It is up to Luis Enrique if he selects many players,” says Simon.

“The level of Spanish players is very high – so much so there’s a group of extraordinary players who have not been called up.”

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