Win will give Spain a lift

Is the Spanish football team now the greatest international team ever? The question could have sounded preposterous a couple of decades ago. In 1982, for instance, when the country hosted the FIFA World Cup, it was knocked out after defeat to West Germany and a draw with England in the second round. In Euro 84, Spain made it to the finals where it was defeated 2-0 by France. It qualified for the 1986 World Cup but was knocked out in the quarter-finals, fell to a 2-1 defeat to Yugoslavia in the second round of the 1990 World Cup, lost 2-1 to Italy in the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals and continued this losing streak by being knocked out of the Euro 2000 quarter-finals by France.

There was a flash of brilliance between November 2006 and June 2009, of course, when the team went undefeated for 35 consecutive matches before losing to the United States.

Now, compare those statistics with how the team has fared over the past couple of years, starting with the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship, moving to the 2010 FIFA World Cup and, naturally, this latest epic win.

Spain has created history by becoming the first team to win an unprecedented third successive major tournament. Seven of its players — Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres — will bid to become the first to appear in three major final wins. Vicente del Bosque (61) has become the only coach to win the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship and Champions league.

Ironically, the highest unemployment rate across the Eurozone was recorded in Spain, where 24.6 per cent of people were out of work in May. We hope La Furia Roja have brought them a large dose of happiness.

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