Viva España! Campeones de Europa.
You may not have supported them on the night, but it would have been impossible not to have been totally blown away by the Spanish. In winning Euro 2012 they became the first footballing nation to win three major tournaments back to back and the smart money would be on them to become the first European side to win a world cup on the Americas when Brazil host the tournament in 2014. Led by Pele, the Brazilians' themselves had a glorious team in the 70's that mesmorised and amazed the footballing world, but for me, this group of Spaniards has to rate as the best football side of all time. It's frightening to think that the majority of the team is so young; Busquets, for example, has won countless domestic and European honours, a World Cup Final medal and now a European Championship...and all at the age of 23!
The Spanish are light-years ahead of England and I stand by my comments that even if we changed our coaching techniques today, it will take a generation to get anywhere close. Mentalities and techniques have to change if we are ever to hold any hope of matching the sort of football played by Spain. I have long since accepted that I am unlikely to see an England side win a major tournament.
I recorded the game for my young son and before I went to bed I even took the time to edit it down to 45mins or so. I will look forward to watching it with him when I get home from work today. He will not have seen scenes like those that followed the final whistle and I hope he will be as wide-eyed as I was when the footballing penny dropped for me during España 82. I still get those wide-eyed moments even at the age of 38! The beautiful game indeed.
And so the tournament passed without the negative element that many had predicted. Sol Campbell's comments that fans would be arriving home in body bags looks pretty stupid now. Naive and lazy social commentary at it's worst, it would appear. Considering my interest in the tournament was almost nil until the week beforehand, I have really enjoyed it. Well done to Poland & Ukraine. There have been some great moments and some fantastic goals. In the end, the best team won. Viva España.