There can't be many people on the planet unaware that Spain has just become the first country ever to win three consecutive European and World Cup titles - hence the catch-phrase for this year's Eurocopa "No hay dos sin tres" (there are not two but three, the equivalent of the English saying that things always come in threes, or "it never rains but it pours").
There's even a song with that title, performed by Spanish pop star David Bisbal with the Colombian duo Cali & El Dandee, which has been played endlessly on TV and radio since the tournament started back at the beginning of June, helping Spain to raise her spirits and put her economic woes to one side for a few weeks.
Although la selección española were the bookies' favourites from the start, there were plenty of begrudgers complaining that the team had lost its edge, that it would never get past the ever-improving German side (in the event, it didn't face that test as Germany was knocked out by Italy), and even a few deluded souls suggesting that England were in with a chance under their new manager Roy Hodgson.
During the tournament there were some tense moments for fans of la Furia Roja (the Red Fury, as the team is known here, or simply la Roja). The only time it looked really confident and convincing in the qualifying stages was against Ireland (4-0), and to be frank, even England would have looked confident and convincing against them. It barely scraped through a hard-fought tussle with Croacia, spared by a last-minute goal by Jesús Navas (Jesus Saves!!) and the skills of the world's finest goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Spain couldn't score at all in the semi-final against Portugal, a spiteful game full of unchecked fouls and cynical diving, finally settled by a penalty-shoot-out in which Portugal's star player Cristiano Ronaldo foolishly put himself on at number 5 and didn't actually get a chance to put the ball past his Real Madrid team-mate.
|Poor Cristiano - seven missed shots and no penalty kick|
|Spain's unflappable manager Vicente del Bosque, |
in the closest he gets to a smile
|Iniesta escapes the shirt-tugging and confuses |
the Italians by going in the opposite direction
It's not over yet of course. Three of the team will be in Spain's Olympic squad next month, and the whole country is looking forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. No hay dos sin cuatro?
|Welcoming back the heroes|