‘He’s a miracle’: All eyes on Lamine Yamal after Spain’s win against France

<span>Lamine Yamal celebrates his goal during the Euro 2024 semi-final between Spain and France.</span><span>Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Lamine Yamal celebrates his goal during the Euro 2024 semi-final between Spain and France.Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

As the shouts that echoed through cities, towns and villages indicated, Spain will not be going quietly, nor calmly, into the hot, dead weeks of August.

Before the country, or at least large parts of it, attempts to knock off for the summer, it has a date with destiny in the as-yet-undecided shape of the Netherlands or England.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, may have been grappling with the cold realities of geopolitics at the Nato summit in Washington on Tuesday, but he still found time to congratulate La Roja.

“TO THE FINAL!” he wrote on X. “The whole country is behind you! Let’s go, Spain!”

Sánchez was far from alone in being delighted by Spain’s 2-1 win over France in Munich.

“¡¡A wild Spain make it to the final in Berlin!!” panted Marca, while El Mundo couldn’t resist a dig at L’Équipe for having had the karmic temerity to use the slogan, “No pasarán!” on the eve of the match: “They shall not pass? Well, we already have.”

Pride and attention fell, inevitably and in equal measure, on the figure of Lamine Yamal, whose goal on Tuesday night put his country into the final and made him, at the tender age of 16 and already the youngest footballer to have played for Spain, the youngest man to score in the tournament’s history.

As Gary Lineker put it, without a hint of hyperbole: “A superstar is born … It was the moment of the match, possibly the moment of the tournament.”

But what Yamal did next snagged Spanish eyes almost as much as his goal. Crossing his hands over his chest, he used his fingers to spell out three digits: 304.

As viewers and pundits were quick to note, these are the last three numbers that make up the 08304 postcode of Yamal’s Rocafonda neighbourhood in the Catalan city of Mataró, which lies 20 miles north east of Barcelona.

Rocafonda and other diverse districts across Spain have often been demonised by the far-right Vox party, which likes to rail against what it terms “multicultural shitholes”. Yamal’s proud and defiant gesture showed it was a young man from one of those multicultural “shitholes” who put Spain in the final.

“Come on Spain!” Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, wrote on X on Tuesday night, “To the final!” On Wednesday morning, however, it was business as usual for the Vox vice-president of the Castile and León region, who told the regional parliament: “If 12.6% of the population – which is the immigrant population – commits 50% of sexual crimes against women, then you do the maths … It’s not racism; it’s basic maths.”

Others were more struck by Yamal’s gesture – and his story. Irene Montero, the Podemos MEP and former national equality minister, said the 16-year-old star and Nico Williams, another driving force behind Spain’s progress through the Euros, had been born in Spain to parents from abroad.

“It became very clear last night – and before the eyes of the world – that Spain is Nico Williams, whose parents jumped the fence at Melilla, were arrested and faced the threat of being deported,” said Montero.

“Spain is Lamine Yamal, who celebrated his goal by gesturing 304, which is the postcode of his working-class neighbourhood in Mataró – a place the far right calls a ‘multicultural shithole’ … I think it’s very important that, on days like today, we remind people who say that Spain isn’t big enough for everyone, or that there’s a problem with immigration and that immigration brings crime, of Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal.”

For the next few days at least, the national team’s exploits will serve to eclipse the often ugly debate over immigration as Spain struggles to deal with a rise in the number of people reaching the Canary Islands by sea.

And all eyes will remain on the teenager whose prodigious talents appear to have been foretold in the recently resurfaced photo showing him being held as a baby by the Barcelona legend Lionel Messi.

“On Saturday, the eve of the final, [Yamal] will celebrate his 17th birthday,” noted Javier Ortiz de Lazcano in ABC. “He’s very clear on what he wants – ‘to win the Euros’. Twelve years on, La Roja is back in the final of the Euros. If it wins, it will be for the fourth time, an unrivalled achievement. If that happens, then history will remember that it was Lamine, the boy who scared Europe and who destroyed France in the semi-final.”

Related: De la Fuente salutes Lamine Yamal’s ‘touch of genius’ and ‘insatiable’ Spain

Others, meanwhile, were still a little light-headed after Tuesday night. “Talking about a teenager in such exaggerated terms is enough to make you dizzy, but, what the hell, it’s his fault,” wrote Joan Josep Pallàs in La Vanguardia.

“We are dealing with something here that is unprecedented in its precociousness. Pelé – and this isn’t a comparison, we haven’t gone that mad – was 17 when he shot to fame in the World Cup in Sweden, and Lamine Yamal has established himself internationally at the Euros at the age of 16 … He is a miracle. We’re just waiting for him to walk on water.”

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