He arrived as a fancied outsider, he stayed cool and calm
throughout, and at the end of the day he powered clear of his
rivals and claimed the crown: Alfonso Ramos was the undoubted star
at the Grand Finals of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2008 at the
Sony Center in Berlin.
After shock group stage exits for former champions Andries Smit from the Netherlands and England's Chris Bullard, the 19-year-old Spaniard proved the best of the 32-strong starting field, claiming glory with a 3-1 victory against USA hopeful Michael Reibero in the Final.
Directly after the prize-giving ceremony, FIFA.com spoke exclusively to the FIFA Interactive World Player, a worthy champion in the virtual football world both technically and tactically.
FIFA.com: Alfonso, the world's top 32 virtual footballers have contested the Grand Finals of the fourth FIFA Interactive World Cup here at the Sony Center in Berlin, and you are the one with the smile on your face at the end. Do you realise what you have achieved today?
Alfonso Ramos: No, it hasn't sunk in yet. It's unbelievable, I'm still totally wound up and nervous. But it feels great and I'm delighted. This is without doubt the best day of my life so far.
When did you realise you were in with a realistic chance of becoming FIFA Interactive World Player 2008 today?
When I saw that Andre Buffo of Brazil, who narrowly beat me at the group stage, was set to be knocked out in the semi-finals, and I wouldn't have to face him in the Final. That's when I realised I could do it.
After you triumphed in the Final, I spoke to some of your opponents today, including 2005 champion Chris Bullard. What he said, to general agreement, was that you deserved today's victory, and that you have been consistently the best player of all over the last three months. What do you feel when you hear a statement like that?
Obviously I'm proud, very proud in fact (embarrassed laugh). I really don't know what to say. I just can't believe it, I'm still really wound up.
Thousands of people watched you play today, cheering you on and rooting for you. For a few hours here on stage at the Sony Center in Berlin, you were a star...
Yes, it was really fantastic. I've never experienced anything like it before, and I'll definitely remember it for ever. But to be very honest, I'm no star, I'm a totally normal guy, that's all there is to say (laughs).
Any idea what you are going to do with the US$20,000 prize?
I'll definitely take all my friends out for dinner. That's a must, it'll be fun. And I might think about a new flatscreen. Let's wait and see...
Will you now retire from the virtual game at the highpoint in your career, or will you keep training and trying to improve?
No, no! I'll definitely keep playing. Basically, I'm hoping I'll make it to the Grand Finals again next year. I'm utterly determined to make it.
Finally, let us into the secret of your success. Why were you better than your rivals today?
It's very simple and comes down to three things: Talent, concentration and luck! Apart from that, I managed not to get nervous today.
Was that difficult?
Oh yes... I'll say!
Are you going to celebrate tonight?
My flight tomorrow is at four in the morning, but I reckon I shouldn't be worrying too much about sleep!