Soccer-Spain's Simon 'tortured' by error but appreciates team mates' solidarity


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Round of 16 - Croatia v Spain - Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark - June 28, 2021 Spain's Unai Simon reacts after scoring an own goal and the first for Croatia Pool via REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) - Spain keeper Unai Simon said he has gone through a torturous process trying to comprehend his tremendous error against Croatia at Euro 2020 but showed gratitude to his team mates, including fellow keeper David de Gea, for lifting his spirits.

Simon, who replaced De Gea as Spain's number one keeper last year, let a Pedri backpass from around the halfway line bobble past him into the net to give Croatia a 1-0 lead in the epic last-16 game, which Spain went on to win 5-3 after extra time.

"It has tortured me a little. Sincerely, I've seen it six or seven times and I can't find an explanation, I just controlled it badly," Simon told a news conference.

"People asked if the sun was in my eyes but it wasn't, I had lots of space to control the ball, I wanted to play out from the back but my feet stopped dead.

"I don't know how many times I've tried to control the ball in my life and the ball had never gone in before. It's an accident but something that can be redeemed very easily."

Simon managed to redeem himself by making two decisive saves later in the game as Spain overcame the shock of Croatia scoring twice late on by proving the stronger side in extra time and reaching the quarter-finals, where they will face Switzerland.

Manchester United's De Gea is no stranger to being criticised for his performances in a Spain shirt and at halftime he went over to comfort Simon, who also thanked the rest of the squad for rallying behind him.

"He calmed me down a lot, the fact he came over to support and encourage me helped a lot. When a goalkeeper like that comes over to you and says that to you all you can do is improve and go again," Simon added.

"The great groups are forged in adversity and I'm proud to form part of this team because the way they supported me on the pitch and in the dressing room says a lot about the type of group we are."

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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