Teenage sensation Gavi became the youngest World Cup goalscorer since Pelé when he volleyed home a superb volley in Spain’s opening 7-0 win over Costa Rica.
The Barcelona midfielder has long been seen as La Roja’s future but last night’s evidence suggests he could be their present as well.
Ahead of their delicious second Group E clash against Germany on Sunday, we turn the spotlight on the Spanish prodigy.
Part of the furniture
Gavi may only be a teenager but his leading role for his country will come as little surprise to those who have followed his career closely.
While Qatar is his first World Cup, he has been a regular for club and country for some time.
Yesterday’s bang at Al Thumma Stadium gave the 18-year-old starlet his 14th senior cap, while he has already made 66 appearances for Barcelona.
The fact that Liverpool star midfielder Thiago Alcantara had no place in Luis Enrique’s squad is a sign of the Spanish manager’s confidence in Gavi, who is trying to help his country win a second World Cup.
Gavi showed exactly why he’s a rising superstar with a purring performance against Los Ticos.
While donning the No9 shirt for his country, the youngster was picked in his familiar No8 position alongside Barca teammates Pedri and Sergio Busquets.
Spain completed an incredible 978 passes in a truly dominant display – the most of any team in the tournament to date, with England the closest challenger with 716 against Iran.
With 67 completed passes from 74 individual attempts and 92 ball contacts, the cultured midfielder was too much for the outsiders.
His high pass led to Dani Olmo after 11 minutes, who scored the first, but it was his strike in the 74th minute to make it 5-0 that really caught the eye.
The Seville native ran towards Alvaro Morata’s cross and used the outside of his boot to hit a first volley that flew off the post.
Not only did this make him the youngest World Cup goalscorer since a certain 17-year-old Pele in 1958, he also inscribed himself in Spanish folklore by becoming their youngest goalscorer in the competition.
Emulate the greats
Naturally, the performance of Gavi and Pedri, a teenager from Barcelona, has drawn comparisons to one of the nation’s greatest duos.
Assisted by the presence of Busquets, they completed 152 of their 162 combined passes yesterday while also creating four chances between them.
As two technically gifted maestros with telepathic understanding on the field, it’s no surprise to hear the names Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta when they play.
This duo was the heartbeat of Spain’s era of tournament dominance between 2008 and 2012 – and La Roja haven’t looked the same since they hung up their boots.
That’s why Spain’s fans are once again so excited for the future as they see the teenage duo strut their stuff.
Back in March, 19-year-old Pedri said: “Let’s hope we can be a duo like Xavi and Iniesta, but it will be difficult to repeat what they did.
“I have a special relationship with [Gavi] and I appreciate him a lot, he has great potential.”
The sky is the limit
Much like a handful of teenage talent shining on the world’s biggest stage, it’s extraordinary to think of the heights Gavi can yet reach.
And it seems boss Luis Enrique thinks the sky is the limit for his No.9.
How special he can get, he said: “I don’t know, I hope he plays better every time and tries to be aggressive with and without the ball.
“He is a unique player. He’s only 18 but he has the personality of a seasoned player and it’s a pleasure to play with a lad who just needs a bit of a break and rest sometimes.
“We are very happy to have him in the team and I think he will become one of the stars of world football.”
Continue the path he started at the World Cup and Gavi could already have secured that star status by the time the tournament ends.