David Silva won his 100th cap against Spain on Monday afternoon, joining a select band of centurions who have reached the milestone for La Roja.
He soon became a regular fixture in the Under-17s, making 20 appearances in 2002/03 and also featured at the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships.
He continued to progress through the ranks, playing 14 times for Spain Under-19s and between 2004 and 2006 he won a further five caps for the Under-20s and nine for Spain Under-21s.
By the time he was handed his senior bow against Romania in November 2006, he’d already represented his country 54 times at various age levels, scoring 23 goals.
His first goals for Spain came on 22 August, 2007 when he scored twice against Greece and had impressed sufficiently to win a place in La Roja’s squad for Euro 2008.
He played his part to the full, too, scoring in the semi-final and playing 66 minutes of the final against Germany before an altercation with Lukas Podolski saw him withdrawn – Silva had now made himself an integral part of the international team.
After helping Spain qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Silva was used sparingly, starting the first game against Switzerland and then appearing for just a few minutes towards the end of the semi-final win over Germany.
He was an unused sub in the final against Holland, though future City team-mate Jesus Navas came off the bench with 60 minutes played as the Spanish registered their first World Cup triumph
Silva established himself back in the international side after the World Cup and played his part to the full during the Euro 2012 qualifiers which saw La Roja end with a 100% record in their group, scoring twice against Scotland in October 2011.
At Euro 2012, Silva played his part to the full, scoring the opening goal in the final against Italy – a header no less – as Spain ran riot 4-0. He ended with the best goals and efficiency of any player at the tournament (2 goals, 3 assists) and deservedly won a place in the UEFA 2012 Team of the Tournament.
The 2014 World Cup saw Spain thrashed 5-1 by Holland in their opening game and then beaten 2-0 by Chile before rounding off their group matches with a dead rubber victory over Australia. Though he played in the Dutch mauling, he was an unused sub against Chile and came off the bench on 83 minutes against the Aussies.
With many wondering if the golden generation for Spain’s international team had finally run its course and whether head coach Vicente Del Bosque would step down, La Roja regrouped and, with Silva rarely out of the side, cruised to Euro 2016 qualification, winning nine of their 10 qualifying games.
Against the Czech Republic as Spain began their defence of their European crown, Silva joined an elite band of Spaniards to have won 100 caps.
Current team-mates Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas have all reached a century as well as Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Andoni Zubizarreta, Raul, Fernando Torres and Carles Puyol.
Said Silva: “To win 100 caps is fantastic, especially at the Euros. When I was a young boy playing on the streets in Arguineguin, I never thought I would play for Spain once – apart from in my dreams. My first kit was a keeper’s shirt. It was too big for me – and I soon realised that I was better with my feet than my hands!
“I watched Spain’s games on ¬television and I hoped that one day it would be me, but to have played so many times during such an important period of success is a big thrill for me.
“But, as always, the dream is to win. Winning the Euros for the third time will be tough because there are so many great teams here. But that is the challenge and we have a team that is capable of beating anybody.”
Congratulations, David – from everyone at Manchester City.