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Pique blends fun and focus for Spain
Reuters, June 25th, 2012 4:03PM

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Gerard Pique's reputation as something of a joker and his glamorous popstar partner Shakira make him one of the more colourful characters in the ranks of the highly disciplined and professional Spain team. The 25-year-old defender is fond of pranks like hiding teammates' clothing and equipment. He once made Victor Valdes late for a training session by pinching his goalkeeping gloves.

But the serious and steely side of Pique is a vital facet of Spain's ascent to World Cup champion and defending European titlist, as well its run to a Euro 2012 semifinal against Iberian rival Portugal on Wednesday. Pique said it was important to inject some humor into what can be a dreary experience at major tournaments, when the players are a long way from home and need to fill the hours between training and matches.

"I like to have a joke and a good time," a smiling Pique said. "When you are taking part in a tournament like this where you have to be together for a month if you don't try to have some fun then it can get monotonous and a bit wearing. Of course when it comes to the matches and you are out there on the field you have to be totally focused on your work."

Pique is shouldering more responsibility in the absence of injured Barcelona teammate, Carles Puyol. To fill the void. Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid has moved from right back into the center.

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