JOINT BLOG POST: REBEKAH THOMPSON AND FIONA FLORES WATSON
It´s never been done before, and in spite of all the criticism and the early doubts, Spain has become the first team EVER to win three major competitions in a row (The Euro Cup in 2008 and 2012, and the World Cup in 2010), and the first team EVER to win the European Cup back to back.
In a spectacular victory last night, Spain defeated Italy by a staggering 4-0 in the final of the European Championship. I had originally planned to head to Marbella to my new favourite bodega, but seeing the celebrations following last Wednesday's match against Portugal, and the difficulty we had catching a taxi home afterwards, knowing we had to be in the office this morning, we erred on the side of caution and went to a bar within walking distance, in the quiet local village of Cancelada.
There are three bars in Cancelada, and there wasn’t an empty seat in any one of them, so we spent the entire 94 minutes leaning against the bar (the three minutes of extra time doing nothing but add insult to Italian injury, since four goals in three minutes is virtually impossible as it take 30 seconds to respot the ball into play). The support for the selección Española was incredible and of course completely international since, like me, a group of Irish friends and a German couple amongst others had donned the Spanish flag as a temporary substitute for our own nations.
This is the second time I have been in Spain when they've won a major competition (perhaps I am a good luck charm?). In 2010 I celebrated the World Cup final in Vigo in Galicia, and the Spanish really do know how to celebrate; fireworks, all-night parties, dancing in the street and car horns acting as make-do celebratory sirens. When we eventually manoeuvred the streets home we watched some fireworks from our kitchen window and listened to the shouting and singing from neighbouring urbanisaciones; what a night to be Spanish. If anyone in Spain managed to sleep on Sunday night – I salute you! Maybe in 2014 “No hay dos sin tres” will become “No hay tres sin cuatro” - they´ve already broken two records, why not break another? Well done Spain! ¡VIVA ESPAÑA!
I watched the match on the terrace of a small cafe in the local village with my family - a bit more sedate than Rebekah's experience! As ever, I was hooked up to Twitter to see what everyone else was saying about the match. Also, what happened after the final was over, and Spain had won, was equally interesting to me, as a journalist.
Many tweeters (and viewers) commented on the children who came onto the pitch, playing in the confetti under the triumphal arch. People loved the idea that the players brought their own kids, wearing mini-strips, to take part in the occasion - to experience the unrestrained joy, the incredible atmosphere, after their dads had just made Spain's footballing dreams come true. One English tweeter commented: "Am loving the whole family/kids on the pitch thing. Well done Spain."
Images of Torres, who scored the third goal and won the Golden Boot, crouching down to hug and talk to his little girl and boy, were enough to melt anyone's heart. I've no idea if that was planned, but it added an extra dimension to those momentous minutes on the pitch. And it seemed totally natural - not parading smaller versions of oneself in a forced, choreographed way. Not to mention, better than Barbie-doll girlfriends. "Not a plastic-boobed WAG in sight", as another tweeter pointed out. It couldn't be further from the loutish, drunken, skirt-chasing (and worse) behaviour of some England players.
Also it was great to see that, in the midst of such excitement, knowing that their achievements were putting them in the history books, as Rebekah explained above (the three successive competition victories, called La Santisima Trinidad), they still remembered lost colleagues. Various members of the team put on Tshirts remembering Spanish players who have died tragically young, including Antonio Puerta (Sevilla) and Miki Roqué (Liverpool, Betis). Sharing this moment with the families of these footballers was a supremely thoughtful, altruistic and laudable gesture.
And, even though I detest bullfighting, I loved watched local boy Sergio Ramos wave his capote (bullfighter's cape) on the pitch. It was a moment when we saw the team's Spanishness come to the fore. I wonder what England players would have done in that same situation?
Needless to say, the Spanish press have not stinted in their praise for the team - other records broken in last night's final were the most goals ever scored in a Eurocup Final (previously held by Germany, 3-0 against the USSR in 1972).
* Sports newspaper AS
"EL MEJOR EQUIPO EN LA HISTORIA" (The best team in history)
"España entra en la leyenda" (Spain passes into legend)
* Sports newspaper Marca
"ESPAÑA Y NADIE MAS" (Spain and noone else.)
* Diario de Sevilla
"CAMPEONES, CAMPEONES...Y CAMPEONES" (Champions... you get the picture)
"INVINCIBLE ESPAÑA" (Unbeatable Spain)
* El Pais
"ESPAÑA CONQUISTA LA TRIPLE CORONA" (Spain conquers the triple crown)
"Una exhibicion para la eternidad" (A show for eternity)
Plus some quotes from the players and manager themselves, with varying degrees of modesty and restraint:
* Jordi Alba: "Este Seleccion va a ser recordada siempre" (This team will be always be remembered.)
* Xavi Hernandez: "Hemos sido muy superiores y ha sido un partido muy completo." (We played very well, it was a very comprehensive match.)
* Vincente del Bosque: "Estamos satisfechos; hemos dado un rato de felicidad a todo España." (We're satisfied; we've given the whole of Spain a moment of happiness.)
The one thing which was missing from last night's TV coverage, and not just in my opinion, was the drama and passion of the spontaneous kiss which team captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas (widely referred to as San Iker; he has now won 100 matches for his national team) gave his girlfriend, TV journalist Sara Carbonero, while she was interviewing him after the World Cup Final. All throughout the post-match interviews, the people I was watching with were chanting "¡Que se besen!" (Go on, have a kiss!) at whoever happened to be on screen - men, women, players, politicians...