Atlético midfielder Jorge Resurrección, better known as Koke, spoke to the press at the Cerro del Espino training facility in Majadahonda yesterday.
The 19-year-old stressed the importance of qualifying for a Europa League berth, and talked about his dream of playing for the Spanish national team, which would be “the best thing in the world” for him.
But first, Koke looked back on Saturday evening’s derby, a clash he felt Atleti could have ended up winning.
“I went home a bit upset because we played well enough to have won the match,” he told the club’s official site. “But they were more fortunate in front of the goal and we had to face Iker, who played a great game.”
The rising star replaced Elias on the left wing in the second half, and the team’s play improved considerably. Neither player is accustomed to featuring on the flank, but the Atleti youth product doesn’t mind playing out of his natural position.
“I’m a central midfielder but I feel comfortable on both sides as well as in the middle,” he said. “The coach plays me on the wing, but I’m fine in either position.”
Los Rojiblancos currently lie three points behind Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla, holders of the last two European spots of sixth and seventh place, respectively. The Madrid-born youngster is confident that his team has the quality to overtake their direct rivals.
“We’re close to the goal because we’re just a game back,” he said. “If we play well, we’ll make it to European competition and I believe that we have the squad to do that. Not qualifying for Europe isn’t even crossing our minds. We all think that we’re going to play in Europe next season.
“Not being in Europe next season would be a failure because we’re not accomplishing our goal of qualifying for Champions League and it would be a bit of a failure not to be in Europe at all.”
Los Colchoneros aren’t nursing any serious injuries and haven’t played many matches lately, nonetheless, Koke welcomes the three day ‘mini-vacation’ coach Quique Sanchez Flores granted the team starting Friday.
“Any rest is good, but next week we’ll see if the time off has been good or bad for us,” he said.
La Liga officials are calling for a suspension of Round 30 as they seek to strike against the Spanish government’s requirement of broadcasting one free game per week, but the move isn’t backed by the fans or the players.
“I hope that they resolve the issues as quickly as possible because we want to play and we don’t want to stop,” said Koke.
If the league calls off the strike, then our away fixture at Osasuna will go on as scheduled.
“It’s going to be a tough match because it’s a difficult stadium,” said Koke, “But the team has a lot on the line and we’re going to go out for the three points and we can get them. We have to win because otherwise we’d fall off the pace for Europe if we lose.”
The gifted teen, who has featured on Spanish youth squads throughout his budding career, was said to have been overwhelmed when asked what a call up to the Spanish national team would mean to him.
“It would be the best thing in the world to make it to the senior squad because it’s the biggest thing one can shoot for as a football player,” he said.
Koke once again gained the warm approval and admiration of the Colchonero faithful following his performance against Real Madrid, and very well may have wrested the starting job back from Elias on the left flank.
Do you think Koke should be a starter from here on out?