Sibling rivalry inspires Camacho

As if to prove the old saying that "the apple never falls far from the tree", captaining tournament contenders Spain at this year's FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea is one Ignacio Camacho.

The gifted midfielder is following in the footsteps of older brother Juanjo, ten years his senior and a member of the Spain side that won the UEFA European U-17 Championship in 1997 after defeating Austria 5-4 on penalties in the final. That team, which included Real Madrid icon Iker Casillas among others, went on to perform brilliantly at that year's world U-17 event in Egypt, finishing in third place.

"I was fortunate enough to win the European Championship just like him, and now I only hope to do better than he did in Egypt. To do that we'd have to reach the final here in Korea, but we'll have to take it one step at a time. First we need to ensure our place in the next round by beating Syria and then we'll see what happens," Ignacio tells

The youngest member of the Camacho clan, who was born in Zaragoza on 4 May 1990, began playing football at just four years of age. "We've always taken football very seriously in my family, but I never felt pressured to be a footballer," says the defensive midfielder. "On the contrary, the fact that my brother was a pro has always benefited me. He's given me loads of advice, seeing as he's been through most of the things that I'm experiencing now, and it's been a huge help."

Having started out in the youth ranks of hometown club, Real Zaragoza, contract negotiations broke down leading to FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Espanyol and Atletico Madrid all bidding for his services. Atletico eventually won the race, taking the youngster on board in October 2005. Such has been his progress that coach Javier Aguirre recently invited him to join the senior team for pre-season training. "You could say I'm 100-percent Colchonero now," he says with a smile, as he pauses to have his photo taken with a Korean girl in the hotel lobby.

And what made the young starlet such an object of desire for La Liga's top clubs? Who better to give his verdict than Atletico youth coach Javier Garcia Marquez. "He's got great vision, he keeps things simple and covers the whole middle of the park. He's a leader on and off the pitch," Garcia Marquez enthuses. "Besides which, he's a super lad and doesn't act like a prima donna. What really singles him out is the way he works so hard to improve. He sees every training session as a challenge and tries to improve every day. He's not one to rest on his laurels and he never stops working."

Next up, Syria
"We didn't expect such a tough opener," admits Camacho, with regard to the hard-fought first-game win over Honduras. "Nor did we expect to have to expend so much energy and that even then our opponents would enjoy the better of the game for spells. The most positive things were the result and certain parts of the match."

"Besides, it's always useful to make certain mistakes and end up winning. We've already discussed what we did wrong and hope not to do it again," says the Spain skipper, a big fan of both English and Spanish football.

Ahead of his side's second Group C match against Syria, this ardent admirer of Chelsea midfield pair Claude Makelele and Michael Essien admits to knowing little about the middle easterners: "We'd like to have in-depth knowledge of how they play to be able to nullify their strengths, but we expected less from Honduras and look how they surprised us. All I'm saying is that pre-match analysis can sometimes be misleading. We need to focus on ourselves. What others do is of secondary importance."

Whether the youngest Camacho eventually betters his brother's feats of ten years ago remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however, Ignacio is sure to do the family name proud here on Korean soil.