Gaizka Mendieta says he wants Spain to be remembered as the first-ever winners of Star Sixes when they take on eleven other national teams in London this summer.
The former Valencia, Barcelona and Middlesbrough playmaker is excited to be returning to action for his country in the new format six-a-side competition and believes it will be a wonderful spectacle.
And, though the pressure will not be like it was during a career in which he won 40 Spain caps, Mendieta is relishing the chance to feel like a player again.
“It’s more relaxed, you don’t have the pressure to win,” said the 43-year-old, “although we will put the pressure on ourselves to win it and be competitive.
“It will be played in a more relaxed way, not only with your teammates but with the other national teams. You get on well with everyone, so the atmosphere on and off the pitch will be amazing.
“I’m so excited about it. It’s an amazing opportunity to feel again like a football player.
“We all want to win, no one wants to lose. You want to be remembered as the ones who win it. It’s challenging and competitive in a different way than when we were professionals.”
Mendieta will be lining up in the Spain side with captain Carles Puyol, a former teammate at the Camp Nou, and Míchel Salgado, the ex-Real Madrid defender. Two players he knows well.
Meanwhile, icons he has faced in massive matches in the past, such as Roberto Carlos, Rio Ferdinand and Dominic Matteo, will be in action for their nations, too.
And he can’t wait to renew acquaintances in a tournament he admits is giving him another bite at the cherry .
“Most players have played against each other during their careers, so it will be good to face these big name stars again and I am also looking forward to playing alongside some of my old teammates again,” said Mendieta.
“We have the opportunity to play in front of a big crowd with world-class players. It’s like a dream come true and a second chance!”
The four-day Star Sixes tournament at the O2 arena in London runs from from 13 to 16 July 2017.
International legends including Roberto Carlos (Brazil), Robert Pirès (France), Carles Puyol (Spain), Deco (Portugal), Steven Gerrard (England), Dominic Matteo (Scotland) and Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria) will also be in action.