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Home > Spain Vs Georgia: Fabian Ruiz Heads Spaniards In Front At Euro 2024

Spain Vs Georgia: Fabian Ruiz Heads Spaniards In Front At Euro 2024

For Watford’s Giorgi Chakvetadze, it has been quite the ride and a moment that will resonate whatever he goes on to achieve in his career.

But the Georgia midfielder has also been drawing inspiration from a less obvious source as the tournament’s lowest ranked side continue to confound expectations.

Chakvetadze has a keen interest in French philosophy, and in particular the work of Albert Camus, and credits the author and Nobel Prize winner with helping him to make sense of his football journey and keep his feet on the ground, which is handy given the current frenzy around Georgia’s exploits.

“Camus’ writings resonate with me on many levels,” said Chakvetadze, whose favourite Camus work is his 1942 novel The Stranger. “His exploration of human existence and the absurdity of life provides a unique lens through which I view my experiences on and off the pitch. It helps me stay grounded and thoughtful about my journey.”

When Georgia take on Spain, doubtless hoping things turn out better than they did in September when an Alvaro Morata hat-trick inspired Luis de la Fuente’s side to a 7-1 win, Chakvetadze will have an especially interested observer back in England.

Watford’s manager Tom Cleverley has been quietly rooting for his talented young midfielder, whose energetic performance in behind Georgia’s electric front two of Georges Mikautadze and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia proved a key component in that famous victory over Portugal.

“He’s one of those footballers’ footballers,” Cleverley tells Telegraph Sport. “He’s maybe not yet had the recognition of how good he is because of his numbers in front of goal but inside the dressing room he’s well respected and now it’s my job and his to really unlock all the potential in him that we see on a daily basis and hopefully the world are seeing in the tournament.”

Chakvetadze’s loan to Watford from Gent was made permanent in February, six weeks before Cleverley took over as head coach, initially on an interim basis before it was later made permanent, and the Georgia star is one of those he intends to build a team around next season. A Premier League winner with Manchester United, Cleverley sees a little of his former Old Trafford team-mate, Shinji Kagawa, in Chakvetadze.

“He’s very comfortable receiving the ball in tight areas,” Cleverley explains. “He’s one of those players who has great balance and seems as quick running with the ball as he is without it. He’s a willing worker and very highly thought of at Watford as he is with his country.

“He’s one of the players we’ll be building our team around next season. Hopefully he continues to show good form this summer and brings that back to his club.

“He’s got good combination play, he’s clever, picks up good positions in pockets. A lot of teams like to create this box in midfield with two 6s and two 10s and, for me, he’s one of the two 10s.

“I want to see him score and assist more goals and be a bit more direct around the box to take him to the next level but if I could compare him to a player I played with he’s got a bit of Shinji Kagawa about him.”

Although Chakvetadze has eight goals in 27 appearances for Georgia, he only got on the scoresheet once for Watford last season and that is the area of his game Cleverley will target to improve.

“When you can see a player is technically good and can finish and those attributes are not being mirrored in the stats then you have to look at yourself as a coach really and ask are you getting him in the right positions to be effective at that end of the pitch,” Cleverley said. “So that’s what we’ll be looking at – how his country has maybe used him a little bit differently to his club. It’s these off season, pre-season moments where I can take the time to do that.”

Cleverley says Chakvetadze’s attitude and application off the pitch stand out. “His levels of professionalism are outstanding,” he said.

“You can see his intelligence in the way he looks after himself. He tries to gain every little percentage off the field with his recovery strategy, gym work, stretching. I think he has an oxygen tank at home, he’s really obsessive about bettering himself. Any stone there he will try to unturn it to be better.

“I didn’t know he’s reading French philosophy! But it doesn’t surprise me he’s trying to improve himself, his mental state or as a general human being. He’s the type of guy who is trying to get everything out of himself. He’s quite inspiring to the group on how professional he is and it didn’t take me long to identify that.”

If anything, Cleverley believes there could be scope for Chakvetadze being a little more selfish on the pitch.

“I was a spectator at QPR away in January and those players who travel with the ball just as quickly as they do without it always impress me,” he said.

“But his willingness to do the ugly side of the game also stood out. I did an individual meeting with him and showed him some clips that illustrated what a good team player he is but how he sacrifices himself too much for the team at times at the expense of his numbers at the other end of the pitch.

“There’s a lot to like about him. Tracking back, putting tackles in, putting his body on the line, he’s not afraid to work hard.”

And perhaps soon to be in line for another huge bonus and the lifelong gratitude of the Georgian people.