Sunday’s UEFA Nations League final will be an important event for players from France and Spain, but it will be exceptional for one player in particular, Aymeric Laporte.
Laporte has played with France’s youth teams for more than 50 matches and has held the captain’s badge for the Under-17, 18, 19 and 21-year-old teams.
The Manchester City defender has been included in the first team three times but has not made any appearances under current coach Didier Deschamps.
But the way to solve the problem of the absence was tough, because after obtaining Spanish nationality in May, Laporte decided to change his identity as a footballer at the international level and represent another team.
The 27-year-old defender will make his 12th selection for a short period with Spain, with the game against his native country.
“It will be a very special game for me, and as I said before, I play with great concentration. I focus 100% or even 300% with Spain,” said Laporte on behalf of the Spanish national team on Twitter.
“I will do my best. I will play against my former teammates (in the French youth team), but the only thing I can think of is winning the final, and that is the most important at the moment.”
The center-back grew up in southwest France and moved to Spain in 2010 to join Athletic Bilbao’s youth academy. Deschamps said he had not spoken to Laporte since his decision to play for Spain.
“I haven’t spoken to him anymore. He has this opportunity and I’m happy for him. He was with us, and now he’s with them. It’s his decision and I respect it.”
“This is the route he wanted and I hope things go well with him, despite the fact that our goal will clash with the two in tomorrow’s game.”