MADRID (AP) — For young Spain defender Hugo Guillamón, any downtime at the World Cup may mean study time.
The 22-year-old Valencia player is heading to Qatar for his first World Cup while still attending university and studying biomedical engineering.
“If there’s time and everything goes well, I’ll try to (study) a bit,” Guillamón said Tuesday. “In a tournament like the World Cup, there is not a lot of time to think about anything else, but I’ll try to do what I can.”
Guillamón said that luckily there won’t be any need to pack any books as “now everything is done through the internet.”
He said his parents always encouraged him to keep studying despite making it as a professional soccer player.
“It’s always been something natural for me,” he said. “I try to go little by little and combine the studies with soccer.”
Guillamón is one of the up-and-coming players selected by coach Luis Enrique in a revamped World Cup squad. He will wear the No. 15 jersey that used to belong to his idol, Sergio Ramos — one of the many veterans who are not in the team anymore.
“Sergio is a legend and a reference for every player,” Guillamón said. “I grew up watching him play, paying attention to him and trying to do what he did.”
Guillamón was a late addition to Spain’s team heading to Qatar, making to the final squad despite having only a few previous call-ups. He has only two appearances with the senior squad, compared to the 180 by Ramos, Spain’s most-capped player.
“As youngsters we can add a lot of energy and ambition,” said Guillamón, who scored when Spain used its Under-21 players in a friendly against Lithuania in 2021 after the senior players had to go into isolation because of the coronavirus.
Guillamón has been playing mostly as a defensive midfielder at club level with Valencia, but with the national team he will be among the central defenders that also include Eric García, Pau Torres and Aymeric Laporte.
“The coach has confidence in me, he knows that I can play in both positions,” said Guillamón, who was one of the players who weren’t fully fit and trained separately from the group at Spain’s training center on Tuesday, along with Álvaro Morata and Marcos Llorente.
Spain plays at Jordan in its final World Cup warmup on Thursday before traveling to Qatar. It will open against Costa Rica on Nov. 23 before also playing Germany and Japan in Group E.
Spain is trying to win its first major tournament since the 2012 European Championship. Two years earlier, in won its lone World Cup title in South Africa.
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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press