LONDON (AP) — Lucas Vazquez has never played for Spain. Marcus Rashford is fresh from his England debut. Joshua Kimmich has only one Germany cap.
They are all going to the European Championship next week.
Tuesday was deadline day for the 23-man squads to be submitted to UEFA and a clutch of inexperienced but precocious players made the cut for some of the continent’s biggest teams.
One of the biggest surprises was Vazquez making the Spain squad, fresh from scoring a penalty in Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph on Saturday, at the expense of more established club teammate Francisco “Isco” Alarcon.
Both are 24, but Vazquez only made his breakthrough last season and his international debut could come in France where Spain is chasing its third successive European title.
“It is a dream come true,” Vazquez wrote on Twitter.
Veteran strikers Diego Costa and Fernando Torres had already been dropped by Vicente del Bosque. But Hector Bellerin, the 21-year-old Arsenal defender, is another Spaniard handed an unexpected late inclusion in a tournament squad for the first time after only making his international debut on Sunday.
“Persistence and hard work always pays off,” Bellerin tweeted.
England has gambled with an even more precocious talent.
Three months ago, the 18-year-old Rashford hadn’t even played a senior game in professional soccer. But after his premature graduation from the Manchester United academy to plug an injury gap in the first-team squad, Rashford flourished.
Eight goals and 17 appearances later, collecting an FA Cup winners’ medal on the way, Rashford’s case for inclusion in the Euro 2016 squad looked a lot less implausible.