No fewer than 13 of Pep Guardiola’s squad received the call to represent their country during the latest international break.
Man City players have enjoyed some brilliant moments at international level and this week we’ll be recounting the occasions when our boys turned it on as the world was watching.
Yesterday we looked at Claudio Bravo’s exploits with Chile at the summer’s Copa America tournament, today we remember David Silva’s star turn at Euro 2008…
Spain were seen as one of world football’s great underachiever nations going into the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
Without a tournament win since 1964, a sense of fatalism had crept into the national psyche as far as its football team went at major competitions, following a succession of penalty shootout exits and hard luck stories.
That was until 2008 when a 22-year old Silva played a pivotal role in a success which changed Spanish football forever.
David made his international debut two years before the tournament and scored his first two goals in a friendly win over Greece a year later, effectively securing a place for himself in Luis Aragones’s 23-man squad.
Silva’s then-Valencia teammate David Villa got Spain’s tournament off to a dream start when he netted a hat-trick in their 4-1 win over Russia in Innsbruck, before they secured qualification for the knockout stages with a 2-1 win over Sweden on matchday two.
Aragones rotated his squad for their final group game, meaning Silva was rested for the quarter finals, but they still qualified with a 100% record, thanks to a 2-1 win over holders Greece.
Only France in 1984 had won all of their group matches and gone on to win the tournament… could Spain repeat the feat 24 years on?
Date with Destiny
Silva was recalled for the last eight meeting with world champions, Italy.
It was played on a date synonymous with dread for Spanish football fans: 22 June. A date which had seen Spain lose three quarter-final penalty shootouts in major competitions.
When no goals were scored after 120 minutes in Vienna, that old fatalism will have surely have crept in to the collective conscience but Aragones’s men put history to one side and exorcized the ghosts of history by winning 4-2 on spot-kicks to set up a semi-final against Russia.
Silva’s Golden Moment
And so onto the last four where Spain met Russia for a second time in the competition.
The group stage match had been one-sided but Russia’s comprehensive quarter-final win over the Netherlands had changed perceptions of Guus Hiddink’s side and gave the impression they were growing into the tournament and peaking at the perfect time.
A goalless, tight first half added weight to these notions but once Xavi Hernandez finally ended the Russian resistance in the 50th minute, it was one-way traffic.
Breakout star Daniel Guiza doubled the advantage in the 73rd minute before David Silva scored his third international goal and Spain’s third on the night to hammer the final nail in with eight minutes to go, finishing smartly from a Cesc Fabregas cross.
Spain were into their first final since 1984 and out for their first tournament success in 44 years – for that reason, perhaps it was no surprise that many pundits fancied perennial finalists, Germany.
Silva was once again an influential figure in Vienna, flitting mischievously between the lines and linking play, but it was Fernando Torres who netted what turned out to be the only goal after 33 minutes.
The then-Liverpool striker arrived onto a sublime pass from Xavi, outmuscled Phillip Lahm and dinked over Jens Lehmann to send Spain into rapturous celebrations, before Silva almost made it 2-0 shortly after, volleying narrowly over from an Andres Iniesta cross.
Germany only managed one shot on target in the 90 minutes and so Spain were good value for the victory which set into motion an unprecedented three-tournament domination of international football.
What happened next…
Silva was named in the official UEFA Team of the Tournament for his performances at the next European Championships which Spain also won in 2012, two years after he won the World Cup in South Africa.
He is one of eleven players to have amassed a century of Spain caps and is still an automatic starter for his country a decade after making his debut.