Since Julen Lopetegui assumed the reins after the latter tournament, however, Spain have rediscovered their inimitable rhythm. They took 28 points from a possible 30 in Russia 2018 qualifying, and are unbeaten in 18 outings overall.

“We are in great shape,” De Gea told Sky Sports. “We’ve got a great squad, and we are going there with a lot of hope and desire and we are really excited about what’s ahead.

“We’ve got a strong squad and there’s a lot of ambition there. We had a great qualifying campaign, but now it’s the nice bit, the final stages of the tournament. We’ve got to go there and try and play our own style of football, try and get victories in the group stage and then go game by game.

“It will be an unforgettable experience, and I’m sure everyone in the squad will be giving 100 per cent to try and win the World Cup one more time for Spain.”

Spain play Portugal, Iran and Morocco in Group B.

De Gea helped Spain reach the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 – a tournament that also featured Eden Hazard, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, among others – where they lost to Nigeria on penalties.

Despite being only 19, he was named in Del Bosque’s provisional 30-man squad for South Africa 2010, but missed out on final selection to Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina. De Gea was a non-playing member of Spain’s Brazil 2014 party before he made his first senior international start shortly after that tournament.

The Manchester United goalkeeper has made the PFA Team of the Year for the past four campaigns in England, and incredibly won the BBC Match of the Day’s Save of the Season award in five of the last six runnings.


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Team bus slogans

Each of Russia 2018’s 32 teams will have a slogan emblazoned on their team bus. You can vote for the winners in the Be There with Hyundai Contest.

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