Unai Simón: ‘We’re getting a bit crazy in how we look at goalkeepers’

A calamitous blunder could have proved costly for Spain and their goalkeeper but both have found redemption as they head to QatarUnai Simón unzips the washbag he carries everywhere and carefully takes out a piece of paper. It is tiny, but its significance to him is huge. Unfolding it gently, he shows the code in black letters, symbols and numbers which were his instructions from the Euro 2020 quarter-final shootout. In the previous round, his mistake, allowing a 44m back pass to slip under his foot into the net, could have led to Spain being eliminated; four days later, his penalty saves against Switzerland took them to the semi. “A liberation,” he calls it.Those nights in Copenhagen and St Petersburg changed everything, and not just for Simón: la selección were to be taken seriously again and he truly felt he was No 1. As Simón explains his approach to the game, the preparation and thinking behind it, the goalkeeper’s role emerges as the embodiment of their commitment to an identity; an indication of how the whole team is set up.

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