Luis García believes Star Sixes will be a unique experience as a ‘World Cup’ for former internationals – and says London is the best place in the world to stage it.
The Spanish attacking midfielder is one of four new players unveiled in the Spain line-up for this summer’s inaugural tournament, which will be played at The O2 Arena from 13 to 16 July.
He will join Carles Puyol’s side and will play alongside Gaizka Mendieta, Míchel Salgado and three new recruits – Valencia legend David Albelda, ex-Malaga keeper Pedro Contreras and Real Betis striker Alfonso Pérez.
García is well-known to fans in England, having spent three seasons at Liverpool, famously helping the Reds win the Champions League and the FA Cup. He knows exactly how much English supporters love watching world-class football.
Having also played in his native Spain with Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, as well as spells in Greece, Mexico, India and Australia towards the end of his career, Garcia says The O2 will be the perfect venue for this summer’s tournament.
“I loved my time in England, a real football country. Obviously Liverpool’s fans are special to me, but everywhere you go in England, at whatever level, the fans really support their team in an amazing way.
“And they love seeing good football in England. For a tournament like Star Sixes, there is no better place to have it than in England.
“I never visited The O2 when I lived in England, but it looks like an amazing place and I can imagine it will be perfect for Star Sixes – something you can take the kids to. And there are a lot of Spanish people in London so I am sure they will turn out to support us in the tournament.”
And they are sure to be rewarded with a world-class event, with players of the calibre of Michael Ballack, Rio Ferdinand, Robert Pirès and Roberto Carlos among the many superstars on show.
But the player he is most looking forward to seeing again is Steven Gerrard, his former Liverpool teammate who will captain the England side.
García has seen at close-hand what an inspirational leader Gerrard is, having been in the team that came from 3-0 down to beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.
“Stevie was one of the greats, a real leader on and off the pitch and a great teammate. It wasn’t only in Istanbul that he drove us on, if you remember.
“But in the final, his goal gave us the belief that we could go on and win it, and he was the real inspiration for us. He made us believe, and winning one of the greatest finals of all was the highlight of my career.”
He added: “I am really excited about Star Sixes. It’s not often you get the chance to play against such great players in a tournament like this, which is similar in format to the World Cup, so it’s unique.
“It will be a fantastic chance for supporters to see world-class players competing again.”