The look on the veteran defender’s face said it all. A world champion at Guatemala 2000 and Chinese Taipei 2004, he was understandably dejected to have ended up on the losing side. Yet, as he looked back on the tournament in an interview with FIFA.com, he also took some satisfaction from the fact Spain gave their very best.
FIFA.com: A second defeat to Brazil in four years. How hard is that to take?
Kike: I’m 34 now so I’ve taken this a bit better than I did four years ago. Losing is all part and parcel of sport and when you play a World Cup final there’s always a chance it’s going to happen. You just have to accept it as part of the game.
What do you feel most at this moment in time?
Pride. We’ve had a fantastic championship and played a fantastic final. Maybe the youngsters can’t see that right now, but I’m pleased with what we’ve done because we’ve been true to ourselves. You can’t ask for anything more than that.
Why did Brazil win?
Games like this come down to the little details that go for you and the ones that go against you. We had a chance to go 3-1 up but the ball struck the bar, and they went up the other end of the pitch and made it 2-2. It’s important not to lose sight of the facts though. Maybe we were the better side overall, but they did things better at crucial points of the game and you have to give them credit for that.
You sound very calm about it all. Why is that?
In the build-up to the World Cup we were sure Spain would be true to their style, win or lose, and that we were going to give something to the game of futsal. I think we’ve done that. When you’re happy with what you’ve done you can walk away with your head held high.
You won the adidas Silver Ball. What does that mean to you?
When it comes to team sports I don’t set too much store in individual awards, though obviously I’m happy to get the recognition, especially as I’m at the end of my career now. All the same, I see this award as something that sums up what Spain is all about, not just Kike.
Will you be back in four years’ time to avenge this defeat?
No! That was my last World Cup match. I’m going to go away and ponder my future in the national team, though it’s all pretty clear in my head I think. There’s a beginning and an end to everything.
What did you say to the younger players in the dressing room?
Messages don’t always get through when tensions are high but they’re always there for when you’re that bit more relaxed. I said I was proud of them because they’re part of a new generation who understand what the Spanish futsal team is all about. They’ve taken that on and they’re going to respect it. And they’re going to be celebrating success sooner than they think.
So the future is bright for Spain, then?
No doubt about it. You have to keep the past in mind and respect it, but I really hope the ones who come along in the future can do better than we did. That would be great for Spain.
What legacy do you think this tournament’s left behind?
A very positive one, though there are always things you can improve on and you can’t rest on your laurels. There have been more teams, which is important, and the direct knockout phase from the Round of 16 onwards has been really entertaining. A lot of teams have really upped their game and there are less and less big wins. There’s still room for improvement, though, and what we need to do now is get everyone to commit to playing attractive futsal.