'Spain's Messiah' Isco keeping feet on the ground
16 November 2014, 18:18
Madrid - Isco woke up on Sunday morning to newspaper headlines declaring him "the messiah Spain has been waiting for to revive past glories" but the gifted midfielder appears to have his feet firmly on the ground.
The 22-year-old was widely feted after netting a brilliant goal in Saturday's 3-0 win at home to Belarus in Euro 2016 qualification Group C, following up on an excellent run of form with his club Real Madrid.
Receiving the ball in a central position around five metres outside the opposition penalty area, he steadied himself before curling a superb shot into the top corner.
Such was the quality of the strike it left Belarus goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov rooted to the spot and he could only watch the ball sail past him into the net.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque punched the air with uncharacteristic enthusiasm but later included Isco in criticism of the team for what he called being "excessively elaborate".
Isco appears to have taken his coach's advice on board and told a news conference on Sunday previewing Tuesday's friendly against Germany in Vigo he was determined to work hard and keep improving.
He is flourishing under the guidance of experienced Real coach Carlo Ancelotti and has made the most of a recent absence through injury of the club's Wales winger Gareth Bale, who would normally start in Isco's place.
"I like to enjoy myself and perhaps I erred a bit trying to play attractively but the important thing is to learn from the criticism," Isco told reporters.
"We have to get used to both praise and criticism," added the former Malaga player, who won the 'Golden Boy' trophy for the best young player in Europe in 2012.
"One day you are up, the next down and I have to remain calm, work, help and learn, that is the most important.
"Each game helps me to continue improving which is what I want. I want to improve in defence, on the ball, score more goals, I never want to get tired of improving."
Tuesday's game against Germany, the European heavyweights' first meeting since Spain's 1-0 win in the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, will be another chance for Isco to confirm his potential as a future Spain stalwart.