Despite having spent his formative years moving between Europe and his South American homeland, Sebastian Gallegos is always particularly proud to pull on the Uruguay national shirt. Now the Atletico Madrid playmaker is aiming to lead the country he left as a young boy to glory at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009 in Nigeria.
"It makes me feel really positive, and I'm very happy to be playing for Uruguay alongside my international colleagues. It's always special for me to join up with the national team," said Gallegos in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.
However, following the 3-1 opening-day Group F defeat against Korea Republic, the South Americans already find themselves under pressure and need all three points from Thursday's match against Algeria if they are to keep their dreams of reaching the knockout phase alive. "We don't want to go home just yet. We're all working very hard to make sure we get the win against Algeria because we were extremely frustrated after losing to Korea."
Gallegos, whose family moved with him to Madrid following his transfer to Atletico, has made it his personal mission to keep Uruguay in the tournament. Certainly, if there is one player in Roland Marcenaro's squad who can inspire his side to victory with a moment of magic then it is undoubtedly the diminutive 17-year-old. Even in the defeat against the Korea Republic, it was Gallegos who levelled the scores, albeit temporarily, from the spot.
'We can beat them'
Now the talented attacking midfielder, whose deft touch, silky skills and eye for a killer pass make him an integral part of the Uruguay youth set up, is fully focussed on putting a smile back on the faces of the nation's passionate fans with a winning performance against Algeria on Thursday evening.
"We can beat them, no doubt about it," said Gallegos confidently, although he will doubtless be aware his side will need a much better showing than in their opener in Kaduna. "We know exactly what we have to do to beat the Algerians and I'm desperate to show what I can do." Another intriguing subplot to the Algeria match will be how the Atletico starlet shapes up against a player with similar qualities to himself. Algeria creator Adelhakim Bezzaz, comparable in terms of both stature and technical ability, is one of very few players who can match Gallegos' passing ingenuity in behind the strikers.
Like many playmakers, Gallegos often performs best when in a good mood. And judging by the relaxed atmosphere around the team hotel, where the entire squad seemed in good spirits sipping their beloved mate infusions, the youngster could prove quite a handful for the Algerians.