The shoulders drop, the head goes down, and he is off down the left flank like a runaway train. Diego Capel's modus operandi may not be a secret, but it is nonetheless highly effective, as fans of La Selección will testify. At Canada 2007, the youngster's incisive wing play and probing incursions into opposition penalty areas have made him a key figure in his side. He capped a fine performance in his country's opening game against Uruguay with a curling left-footed strike to salvage a point in injury time, then set up Juan Manuel Mata for Spain's second in their last game against Zambia.
"On a personal level, I'm very satisfied as I played well in our first two games. However, the most important thing is that we're top of our group, which is where we set out to be. I finished the Uruguay game on a real high because that point gave us a platform to build on in our next game," he tells FIFA.com after a workout at the team's training camp.
Capel picked up a knock against Zambia but still hopes to recover in time for his side's final group match with Jordan. The 19-year-old is the first to admit that Spain have not yet performed at the level they had hoped for, but nor is he overly concerned: "I admit we haven't reproduced the kind of football we showed at the European championship, but in our favour is the fact that we've known each other for a long time and we have a well-honed playing style and philosophy. I'm positive we'll soon rediscover that."
Spain's coach Gines Melendez said after the Zambia game that his players had felt very fatigued, and that he was concerned about a marked rise in temperatures in Burnaby in recent days. "In the second half of that game we were a bit lethargic, and, physically, they were much the stronger side. We provided the football but they provided the physical effort, and in that respect they were better than us."
"We didn't have much time together in the run-up to the tournament, and we're struggling a bit to find the level we want," says Capel, who joined up with the rest of the U-20 squad just hours after Sevilla Atletico (the club's B team) won promotion to the Spanish second division after a 45-year wait.
Sevillista to the core
"I couldn't really participate in the celebrations because I had to go directly to Madrid, but it's been a great year for Sevilla football club," he says with a smile. Capel is understandably delighted that the Andalusian outfit have decided to renew his contract until 2011. "I'm thrilled they have confidence in me, and I also appreciate all the support the club and the fans have given me. I hope to get another shot at first-team football, although I understand that right now that could be difficult."
The player first began to demonstrate his remarkable skills as a boy and at the age of 12 he joined the fabled Barcelona youth set-up. However, the youngster had trouble adapting to life at the Azulgrana's academy and returned home. Shortly afterwards the opportunity arose to play with the youth sides at Sevilla, and so the left winger gave it another go. This time there was to be no going back, making his first-team debut two years ago, and this season getting his first taste of UEFA Cup football.
However, securing a first-team place with the Copa del Rey- and two-time UEFA Cup-winners will be far from easy. "Sevilla are in rude health right now, and so opportunities are hard to come by. Still, that's the goal of all us reserve players and what we strive for every day. If things go well for us here, Canada 2007 could be the perfect stage to show our clubs that we can be trusted [with first-team football].
Capel is blessed with speed and a sublime dribbling technique, skills that make him a potent attacking weapon, but which occasionally see him accused of individualism. "Who me?" he asks in mock indignation, before adding: "I think I'm maturing in that respect and improving my game. Still, all these experiences help you to learn."
The player's famous sense of humour and spontaneity have helped create a great atmosphere in the Spanish camp and have made the long stay abroad more enjoyable. "As well as football, there has to be time for some fun and games. That helps to unite the squad, and a good atmosphere is reflected out on the pitch," he says.
With such a positive attitude, it is no wonder Capel is confident Spain will top their group. "Jordan will make it hard for us, just as Zambia did. And while I feel they might not trouble us quite as much, the results at this World Cup have shown that you just never know. We need to be focused and go in search of the victory. What's more, I think Uruguay will really have their work cut out to beat Zambia [in the other Group B game]."