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6 June 2002, 15:40 Seoul - Tokyo
De Pedro offers surprise package
by FIFAworldcup.com

"A star in the making." Spain's Mundo Deportivo newspaper was in no doubt as to the identity of the national team's best performer against Slovenia last Sunday. And for most of its readers, Francisco Jose Javier De Pedro Falque will have been a name to conjure with this week.
Recognition has come courtesy of a left-wing cross for Juan Valeron to score the second goal in a 3-1 Group B victory. What the neophytes do not realise is that the 28-year-old was doing the same for his club side Real Sociedad all season. Mundo Deportivo had even labelled him "king of the assists" for the 12 goals he created for the San Sebastian team.

"It means something to have set up more goals than Zidane or Figo," De Pedro said at the time. His estimated salary of 230,000 euros does not compare with the Real Madrid pair's earnings. What they have in common, though, is the price they put on the functions of the traditional No10. De Pedro cites Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov among his heroes. The latter choice is no surprise given the player's tough reputation and equally dangerous left foot.

"I am less of a winger than a No10," said the player who wears that shirt with pride at Real Sociedad. "No one is going to take it off me, not even Maradona." Actually, Diego Tristan achieved what the little Argentinian could not before De Pedro's late call-up to Jose Antonio Camacho's squad.

Fighting spirit

The eve-of-tournament withdrawals of Fran, Vicente and Munitis gave De Pedro the chance to add to his five caps and show that "my game is about more than my left foot". What he does offer is the ability never to say die. Where most of his Spanish team-mates prepared for the tournament by lifting silver, De Pedro limbered up with a season-long - and ultimately successful - fight against relegation.

The same spirit has allowed De Pedro to recover from rejection more than once in his career. A member of the same national youth set-up as Raul and Mendieta, De Pedro was left out of the group that went to the Atalanta Olympics. Then came the disappointment of his omission from Camacho's squad for the UEFA European Championship two years ago.

Still, what goes around comes around, and De Pedro was the obvious candidate when the coach needed a left-sided player at short notice. Indeed, the only surprise has been the set-piece specialist's duck-to-water approach to FIFA World Cup realities. De Pedro brought charisma and leadership qualities to the party last Sunday - in fact, he had more possession than Spain's official playmaker Valeron. His is the man of the moment, and long may it last.

Hala Spain............:)
Hala De Pedro.......:)
Hala Camacho......:)
 

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sources say a move to barca in the summer aswell.
i never new how great he was this season. cheers for that post and lets hope we beat paraguay tomarrow!
 

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I have to admit I doubted his class but last game he was one of our best, he might be our next surprise player that could get signed by a big club next season, too bad he's 28:(
 

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He had 2 assists today, and gave the ball to Raul for the penalty.

Gave an assist against Slovenia too. Now i'm getting over not having Vicente:cool:
 

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he also had the most assist in the league this season

pretty impressive considering he didnt have prolific finishers infront of him, coz if he did they would of finished more of his through balls (prob dont get me do you)
 

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Iam also very impressed with De Pedro, i always knew he had a good shot but he was usually a pretty individual player who did more harm then good for a weak Sociedad squad. Now he has quality around him and he can afford to make some attacks on his own with decent backup if he locks up.

He has to play vs South Africa!
 
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