"It was one of the craziest things I ever did," says Andrea Sánchez of leaving the Canary Islands for Barcelona aged 15 as she prepares for yet another semi-final with Spain.
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If Spain beat the Netherlands in their UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship last-four tie on Thursday, Andrea Sánchez could play in her fourth continental youth final in less than three years.
Sánchez was part of the Spain team beaten in the 2013/14 U17 decider and also in the last two U19 finals – including one against the Dutch in Oslo in 2014. The forward, who swapped Barcelona for Atlético Madrid this summer, will set a UEFA youth record along with Nahikari García and Nuria Garrote if she features in that fourth final.
A big reason why Spain got through to these semi-finals in Slovakia with the only 100% record, Sánchez spoke to UEFA.com about the spirit in the Spain squad and leaving her Canary Islands home for Barcelona when she was 15.
On leaving Barcelona ...
I owe a lot to Barcelona, they taught me a great deal. But I think it was time to move, a good chance to carry on learning as a professional, to get new experiences and get out of my comfort zone and push myself a little bit more.
On joining Barcelona aged 15 ...
It was one of the craziest things I ever did. I was 15 when I decided to move from the Canary Islands to Barcelona. But they made it extremely easy for me. All I needed to worry about was playing football and studying. They made the time really enjoyable.
It's difficult because you have to give up certain things you like in order to progress. In that case I decided to concentrate on football and leave behind my family. I'm happy with how things turned out.
On these finals in Slovakia ...
I know it's not my first final tournament and I have experience. But you always have the same excitement, wondering what it will be like, how the matches will go and you still have the same nerves. So far it's going very well.
On Spain's team spirit ...
The team is great on and off the pitch. We have a good vibe between us, we all get along really well. That is the key to winning matches, which is in itself an added bonus. When we get together to train in Madrid, it's only a few days at a time, it goes by very fast. It's in these kind of tournaments or qualifying mini-tournaments where we really get to know each other and get closer as people, that's what makes it special.
On the Netherlands ...
They are definitely a tough team. I've played against them a couple of times, notably the final we lost a couple of years ago. They are a good team, well organised and are definitely strong opponents. We have to give our all.