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During his later years in France, where he won three consecutive national championships – of the seven the team won – Abidal’s confidence was shown when Lyon played Manchester United and he was in charge of marking Cristiano Ronaldo: “As a defender, my aim is to infuriate the opponent,” he explained. “I want him to be so sick of the sight of me that he has to move somewhere else on the pitch to get away.” At L’OL his defensive teammates included François Clerc, Grégory Coupet and Anthony Réveillère, as well as Brazilian internationals Caçapa and Cris. On 10 November 2004, Abidal scored the first goal of his career, in a 2–3 loss at former club Lille for the season’s Coupe de la Ligue round-of-32. As a result of his exploit, his parents agreed to get married after a 35-year union. Abidal missed the first months of the 2005–06 campaign after fracturing his metatarsus in a friendly game with Once Caldas. He still managed to appear in 15 matches as Lyon won its fifth national championship in a row (the second with the player). On 29 June 2007, Abidal signed a four-year contract with FC Barcelona for €9 million, after repeatedly stating that he would not return to training with Lyon if he was not allowed to move.
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On 13 May 2014, De Gea was selected in Spain’s 30-man provisional squad for the 2014 World Cup, and later made the final squad. He made his first senior international appearance against El Salvador in a 2–0 friendly victory on 8 June in preparation for the tournament, replacing Iker Casillas for the last seven minutes of the match at the FedExField in Washington, D.C. As third-choice goalkeeper behind Casillas and Pepe Reina, De Gea was the only member of the squad not to feature at that World Cup, in which Spain were eliminated in the group stage. On 4 September 2014, he made his first start for Spain, playing the whole 90 minutes against France in a Paris friendly and conceding a goal from Loïc Rémy to lose 1–0. He played his first competitive international on his third cap on 12 October, keeping a clean sheet in a 4–0 win away to Luxembourg in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying. He has been tipped by many to succeed Casillas as the long-term number one goalkeeper, including Casillas himself. On 31 May 2016, he was named to Vicente del Bosque’s final 23-man Spanish squad for UEFA Euro 2016. He started their opening match against the Czech Republic in Toulouse, keeping a clean sheet in a 1–0 victory. He followed up with another clean sheet against Turkey as Spain won 3–0. The following match, however, he conceded twice to Croatia as his team lost 2–1. Spain was eliminated in the round of 16, with their opponent Italy scoring the only two goals of the match.