Madrid: Atletico Madrid's 22-year-old midfielder Jesus Resurreccion 'Koke' admits that when as a boy he watched the World Cup on TV, he thought it would be "impossible" to play in the tournament, but now he could play a major role in Spain's defence of their World title.
Koke showed during Spain's 2-0 win over El Salvador in their final warm up game ahead of kicking off their title defence against Holland Friday that he can cover perfectly for Xavi Hernandez in central midfield, reports Xinhua.
With 34-year-old Xavi likely to struggle to play 90 minutes every five days, that means Koke is likely to enjoy plenty of time on the pitch in Brazil.
He has come a long way since being brought up in the humble Madrid neighbourhood of Vallecas, but in an interview with the El Pais newspaper Monday, Koke explained that those roots are vital to his style of play.
"My mother worked and looked after the house and my father worked hard as well. It could be that what I learned at home is reflected in the way that I play. I was taught that you have to work hard at things in order to earn them and that is probably reflected on the pitch," he said.
That effort saw Koke progress to play for Atletico Madrid, "you are born an Atletico supporter and my grandfather was a club member, while I had my room covered in scarves and photos," he commented, admitting he had never modelled himself on Xavi's style of play.
"There will never be anyone like Xavi, I watched him a lot and also Andres Iniesta, but it was hard enough for me to get into the Atletico side. It has never entered my head to be half of what Xavi is as a player," commented Koke.
Atletico won the BBVA Primera Liga and were seconds away from lifting this season's Champions League against Real Madrid, but Koke highlighted one difference between his club's style and that of Barca.
"At Atletico the players run more than the ball," he said
"Football is about winning. If you win you are happy. I like to have the ball, but I have also learned how to suffer on the pitch and at Atletico we have learned how to suffer and victory tastes better when you have suffered for it."