Gaizka Mendieta will tick off one of his big ambitions this summer when he turns out for Spain at The O2.
The former Lazio, Barcelona and Middlesbrough midfielder will be one of more than 100 international football icons taking part in the inaugural Star Sixes tournament in July, and is looking forward to playing at the dome after visiting regularly as a spectator.
But while he’ll be representing his country again, as he did on 40 occasions during his playing career, Mendieta would also love to wow the London crowd with music.
For the Spaniard has a passion away from football. A keen DJ, he has filled dance floors in clubs and venues since he first got the bug for mixing during his days playing for Valencia.
“I’ve been a DJ at festivals but nothing like The O2. It will be on my bucket list!” smiled the 42-year-old.
“I’ve been to The O2 as much as I can, mostly to sports events. I recently came to the NBA and last year a couple of concerts.
“It’s fantastic, the moment you come in the door you have restaurants, a great atmosphere. It’s amazing for fans.
“The stands are so big but fans will still feel close, there’s no venue like that.
“I’m looking forward to being on the other side, not on the seats but on the court and getting the feeling from a different point of view.”
When Mendieta arrives at The O2 for the four-day tournament, which kicks off on 13 July, he’ll be joined in the Spain team by Barcelona legend Carlos Puyol, ex-Real Madrid defender Míchel Salgado and seven other, as yet unnamed, former La Roja internationals.
They will be going all out to win the first-ever Star Sixes title, but will be up against eleven other strong nations, including Steven Gerrard’s England, Roberto Pirès’s France, Michael Ballack’s Germany and Brazil, featuring Roberto Carlos.
He knows his team will need to be at their very best if they are to be triumphant, so when asked which current Spain player he’d love to be able to call upon, his response was instant.
“I would put Iniesta in the team, 100 per cent. Because his talent, his vision, his fitness, he would be a key player for this type of football,” he said.
“I’d sign him tomorrow!”
Sorry, Gaizka, the 32-year-old playmaker is still starring for Barça and Spain, so he’s not available…
Find out soon which players will be joining Mendieta in the Spain team. In the meantime, tickets are on sale for Star Sixes via Ticketmaster or AXS with prices starting at just £30 for adults and £10 for children.