Spain manager Luis de la Fuente selected 28-year-old David Raya to start against Cyprus, marking a shift from his previous role as a substitute since being called up by Luis Enrique in March 2022.
Raya has become a consistent presence in the national team, making his debut goal for Spain in March 2022 in a memorable match against Albania held at the RCD Espanyol stadium in Barcelona.
The friendly, which Spain won energetically, saw a packed stadium saluting Raya with full honours.
Known as a self-made goalkeeper, Raya is recognized for his relentless work ethic and chose his position inspired by the resources available at home.
“When I was four or five years old, I started as a goalkeeper. My middle brother was a winger and I had to play goalkeeper at home and I liked it. My parents signed me up for the village team and that’s where I have my first memories of playing in the garden at home and then on the village team,” he explains nostalgically.
At 28, Raya has made a name for himself in England, now at Arsenal after seasons at Blackburn, Southport and Brentford, with whom he made his Premier League debut.
David Raya is in action for Arsenal
He is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the top flight, and it is no coincidence that that is how specialists describe him.
“I left the country when I was very young, just 16 years old, and I had to work hard to get to where I am now. You value a lot of things, like when I left to play in the fifth division at 18 to 19 years old.
“It’s very different from professional football or training and from the facilities I was used to at Blackburn. They taught me a lot of things there and it helps you appreciate what you have. I wouldn’t change my career for the world.”