As far as debuts at major international tournament's go, Spanish attacker Llorenc's experience at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013 will take quite some topping. The 21-year-old, while still trying to make sense of it all, cannot stop smiling in the wake of his side's victory over El Salvador that booked the Iberians' place in the semi-finals.
“I’ve only been playing beach soccer for two years, so all this used to be unthinkable for me,” a wide-eyed Llorenc told FIFA.com. “I’ve seen the tension in my more experienced team-mates’ eyes and that’s helped me appreciate what it means to be at a World Cup. It’s my first time and maybe I don’t see the same things they do after playing for five years without getting this far. Obviously I knew it was important but now I understand the scale of our achievement.”
An intelligent and cultured player, Llorenc’s route to Tahiti has been as unorthodox as it has swift. “I used to play on the left wing for Nastic [Gimnastic Tarragona] but I injured my knee and needed surgery,” he said. “I started playing on sand as part of my rehabilitation process and because I enjoyed it so much I began playing for a team in my hometown of Torredembarra. Then Joaquin Alonso spotted me in the Catalonia side, and here I am.”
Big shoes to fill
That the No10 shirt Llorenc now wears comes loaded with history - it previously belonged to Ramiro Amarelle - has not gone unnoticed by the player. “I learned most of what I know about this sport from Rami," said Llorenc, who has scored three goals at the tournament so far. "I’ve had the honour of being his team-mate, of training with him for hours and understanding what he means to the national side. I haven’t forgotten that it’s thanks to his goal against Ukraine that we’re here at all. If he comes back one day, I’ll definitely return it [the shirt] to him.”
The mention of Amarelle's name stirs up memories of the colleagues who failed to make the final World Cup squad. "We're doing this for them too," Llorenc said. "Maybe I shouldn't praise the coach too much, but I will anyway because it's difficult to be in charge of a large group of players with lots of team-mates back at home. Everyone here trusts everyone else completely, which is vital if you want to achieve your aims. If you don't trust your team-mates, you won't get anywhere."
Spain's path to further progress is currently blocked by semi-final opponents Brazil, a side Llorenc has been studying closely: "Brazil are good at all aspects of the game, I don't think there's anyone better. But to be honest, in our preparations we've played our own style and I don't think we should change that's just because we're facing Brazil. We want to show we trust in the work we've done up until now."
With the interview drawing to a close, there is still no sign of Llorenc's smile fading. "I'm living a dream," he explained. "I never thought I'd be called up to the national side let alone be in the semi-finals at a World Cup. I feel very fortunate because every day is a new experience. I just want to continue on this path and I hope it never ends. Now that we've made it this far, we're going to go for the title."