Spain soccer team return to heroes welcome

Spain’s victorious football team have been feted on the streets of Madrid after flying home from the Ukraine with the Euro 2012 trophy.

After beating Italy 4-0 in Kiev on Sunday night, the Spanish contingent flew home on Monday afternoon to a rousing reception in the capital.

From the parade, Cesc Fabregas tweeted: ‘I cant describe what we r going through at the moment.. Thanks so much!’

At the presentation, Fabregas later had a warning for Spain’s rivals.

‘Everyone thought we would be finished after we won the Euros and the World Cup,’ he said. ‘They thought we might ease off a bit but here we are again.

‘No-one has done the triple before and we are very proud of it. We are lucky to have had a lot of good experiences at a young age.

‘Hopefully that and the success we are having now mean we will be stronger for those experiences when we’re older.’

Fabregas made a significant contribution to Spain’s success, just not in the way he would have imagined.

An orthodox midfield player at Arsenal, in Poland and Ukraine coach Vicente Del Bosque discovered a new role for the 25-year-old.

In a team without a striker, Fabregas was the one asked to become a ‘false nine’.

‘It’s the first tournament in my life that I have played as a striker,’ the Barcelona man said.

‘It was difficult at the beginning but I got used to it very well and I am really proud of this.’

From there it was on to a welcome party with Spanish King Juan Carlos at La Zarzuela Palace before they took to the streets in an open top bus celebration.

Spain became the first country to win three major trophies in succession thanks to Sunday’s epic win.

Fernando Torres believes Spain have established the yardstick by which future international success will now be measured.

Spain reign… in numbers

20 – Competitive games since they last lost.
29 – European Championship games without defeat since going down 2-0 to Sweden in a qualifier in October 2006.
8 – The number of Spaniards to have appeared in two European Championship final victories – Iker Casillas, Andris Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Fernando Torres, Cesc F`bregas, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos and David Silva.
79 – International clean sheets for Casillas, who has won 100 of his 137 games to date for his country.
513 – Minutes since Casillas last conceded a goal, in the 1-1 Group C draw with Italy on June 10.
189 – The total number of minutes played by Torres at the finals.
63 – The average number minutes on the pitch needed for Torres to score each of his three goals.
3,946 – Completed passes at Euro 2012.
620 – Total passes attempted by Xavi.
531 – Total passes completed by Xavi at an average success rate of 86%.

Del Bosque’s men destroyed Italy in the final of Euro 2012 in Kiev last night to become the first team to win three successive major international tournaments, including the World Cup.

Torres came off the bench to score the third goal in a 4-0 hammering as Spain added another European title to their Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 crowns.

The Chelsea striker told Marca: ‘You can’t ask for more, but it is the work of the team and the togetherness that has brought us here.

‘You always want to win more and more, but right now we have to enjoy this. We have won by a distance against a great team like Italy.

‘We are very happy. This was the objective that we had at the start of the tournament. We knew we were the opponent to beat, that it was going to be more difficult than ever and it has been.

‘We had luck in some moments of the championship but at the end we will reflect on what today means in Spanish football history.

‘We have dominated from start to finish and enjoyed a magical evening. Now we can say that national teams of the future will concentrate on us to try and make history.’

Torres spent much of the tournament on the sidelines as Spain played for long periods without a recognised striker, with Cesc Fabregas deployed as their most advanced player.

But he finished the campaign with three goals and, courtesy of his assist for Juan Mata’s fourth, the Golden Boot.

He also became the first player to score in two European Championship finals following his winner against Germany four years ago.

Torres, who only started three of Spain’s six games, added: ‘Football is like this, This is my third Euros, in the previous ones I played almost all the games and scored two goals. In this one I have played less but won the Golden Boot.

‘Football can be just or unjust like that depending how you look at it and that is why we like it so much.’

Spain’s first two goals came from David Silva and Jordi Alba, while Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta was named man of the match in the final and hailed a truly historic achievement.

‘This is something unique, magical and unrepeatable,’ he told AS. ‘We have to enjoy the moment. The important thing is Spain are the champions which is what we came here for.

‘It was a very complete game, we played very well with the ball and when Italy were left with 10 (when Thiago Motta went off injured) we pressured them very well. We played such a good all-round match which is what was demanded of us in this final.’

by Terence Johns

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