Spain coach remembers late daughter on 'special day' at World Cup

Spain's head coach Luis Enrique claps his hands during the World Cup group E soccer match between Spain and Germany, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Spain coach Luis Enrique said it was a “special day” after his team’s 1-1 draw with Germany at the World Cup on Sunday.

But it had nothing to do with soccer.

Luis Enrique said Sunday would have been the 13th birthday of his daughter, Xana Martínez, who died three years ago of a rare form of bone cancer.

“It was a special day for me and my family,” Luis Enrique said. “Obviously we don’t have our daughter with us physically anymore, but she is still present every day. We remember her a lot, we laugh and think about how she would act in each situation that we experience.”

Luis Enrique had earlier posted a video on Instagram in which he said that “not only we play against Germany today, but Xanita would have turned 13.” He wished her “a good day” wherever she was right now.

“This is how life works,” he said after the match. “It’s not only about beautiful things and finding happiness, it’s about knowing how to manage these moments.”

Luis Enrique and his daughter Xana celebrated after Barcelona won the Champions League final in 2015. Xana died of bone cancer at age 9 on 29 August 2019. [File: Michael Probst/AP]

The 52-year-old Luis Enrique, a former Barcelona player and coach, is participating in his first World Cup as Spain’s manager. He left the national team after finding out about his daughter’s cancer, returning some time later.

Spain will advance to the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar if it avoids defeat against Japan in its final group-stage match on Thursday. 

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