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Spain starlet Yamal a 'genius': coach De la Fuente

Luis de la Fuente (R) speaks with <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/players/3966436/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Lamine Yamal;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Lamine Yamal</a> during <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/spain/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Spain;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Spain</a>'s Euro 2024 semi-final victory against <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/france/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:France;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">France</a> (JAVIER SORIANO)

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said seeing 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal's performance against France on Tuesday in their Euro 2024 semi-final triumph was like watching "a genius".

Yamal scored a brilliant goal to level Randal Kolo Muani's opener for Les Bleus, with Dani Olmo then netting what proved to be the winner for Spain.

Named player of the match, Yamal became the youngest-ever male Euros goalscorer.

"We have seen a genius, the product of a genius," De la Fuente told reporters.

"He's a player we have to take care of -- I have to give him the advice to keep working with the same humility and keep his feet on the floor.

"He would keep growing but this maturity and attitude at such a young age is like that of a more experienced player.

"We are lucky he is Spanish and we can enjoy him for many more years."

Yamal became the competition's youngest player in Spain's first match against Croatia and also provided three assists on his team's run to the final.

Spain will face England or the Netherlands in the Berlin final on July 14, a day after Yamal's 17th birthday.

De la Fuente reserved praise for the rest of his team, including Olmo.

"We've been talking about Lamine but I have 26 great players," continued the coach.

"I know (Olmo) very well and the potential he has... I am grateful to him too."

The 63-year-old, who replaced Luis Enrique after Spain's shock last 16 World Cup 2022 exit, was delighted with the sacrifice of his players to stop Kylian Mbappe and Co.

"This team is always to believe in," he said.

"They are exemplary players, individually they are fantastic but they harness that for the team.

"They always work for the good of the team, they are generous, I've spoken about the values the team has and this is another show of that."

Striker and captain Alvaro Morata was involved in an unfortunate incident after the game during celebrations, when a stadium worker appeared to crash into him.

"He had a blow that hurt him, but it seems like it will be nothing," said De la Fuente, who also defended Morata against criticism in Spain from recent days.

"On and off the pitch, there's not many like that, giving us what we need, sacrificing himself, and then in the dressing room, is where he really shows the greatness he has, an exceptional human.

"He needs to be remembered as one of the Spanish football greats."

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