Al Nasr striker Alvaro Negredo has graciously declared he “enjoyed every moment” in tandem with retired icons David Villa and Fernando Torres – despite the pair impeding his Spain career.
Negredo, 34, scored 10 times in 21 internationals from 2009-13. He also won Euro 2012, yet holds hurtful memories of missing La Roja’s World Cup 2010 triumph in South Africa and being cut at the last minute from Brazil 2014.
This is a slim return for a multi-faceted centre forward who lashed home 85 times in 182 matches for Sevilla, earning a £16.4 million move to Manchester City where he won the Premier League and League Cup double in 2013/14.
Spain’s record 59-goal marksman Villa and 110-times-capped Torres – whose clincher at Euro 2008 heralded a period of grand conquest – provided insurmountable obstacles. Both hung up their boots in 2019 and Negredo’s admiration could not be tempered for the elite duo.
“I know that it would be difficult for me to play,” he tells Sport360 ahead of Nasr’s Arabian Gulf Cup final versus Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club at Zabeel Stadium on Friday (20:00). “But I enjoyed every moment working with them, even from the substitutes’ bench.
“Villa was the best scorer in the whole history of Spanish football. It was a big experience to be with them, live with them and enjoy every moment with them.”
He added: “It was like a dream becoming a reality when being called to the national team. I was at Euro 2012 with the big players, who also played in the World Cup.
“I worked too hard to arrive to this level. I was very grateful to see what your work can do for you.”
A former team-mate who has enjoyed a renaissance with La Roja is Jesus Navas.
Negredo’s long-term acolyte has successfully transformed from waning winger to Spain right-back. The 34-year-old’s new lease of life has occurred since he returned to Sevilla from Manchester City after 2016/17.
These stellar performances in defence saw him recalled, after nearly six years away, last March.
Negredo benefited from the speedster’s supply line at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan from 2009-13, in winning the 2013/14 Premier League title at City and, sporadically, with the national side.
He said: “With his physical condition and qualities, he can play everywhere. Winger or right-back.
“When I was with him, he always arrived an hour before [training], dressed in 10 minutes and after was making sprints and movements.
“With his physical condition, he lived for it – it was like a passion for him.
“At Sevilla, he played more than 500 games. He had the quality to do that.”
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