The 2010 FIFA World Cup concluded in fine style with the Spanish national side raising the coveted trophy as champions for the first time. As the curtain falls on this historic event, fans reflect on what made the tournament so special for them.
Clad in their national colours, Spanish fans celebrated as they left Soccer City stadium for the last time, as victors of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. With tears of joy in his eyes and his hand on his heart, Juan Toral stood with the profile of the stadium behind him, amazed that out of the 64 games, 32 teams and many weeks of football, his team will return home as world champions. “I never thought I would live to see this day,” said Toral. “Tonight we showed the world we are the best, this is a dream come true. Thank you to the people of South Africa.”
“It is an amazing day,” said Carlos Cuadrado. “We as the fans of Spain will remember this day and this tournament forever. South Africa will always be special for us, the country will always be in our hearts and minds.”
Results aside, many visiting fans have travelled to South Africa for the first time and will return home with fond memories of the hospitable nature of the country. “South Africans have welcomed us all over,” said Spaniard Raul Rodriguez. “It is an incredible country. The atmosphere is fantastic, the landscape is beautiful and people are really friendly. South Africa is on the right path to become a greater country.”
“I have been very impressed with the support for my team. I have never seen so many Spanish flags outside of my own country, “ added Rodriguez.
For Luiz Goncalves, a Brazilian fan, the hosting of a successful tournament in South Africa has changed his perceptions of the continent, “This is the way a World Cup should be. It has been amazing here and we hope Brazil can do the same as South Africa and host a great World Cup. I've told all my friends back in Brazil that Africa is living la vida loca.”
Many fans returning home will offer a different perspective of the host country. “It is not like I read about before coming here,” said Chantal Schinkels, a Dutch fan who has flown to South Africa and followed her team over the last three weeks. “This tournament has changed the view around Africa and South Africa. People have enjoyed it around the world and I have heard only positive news in the press. This is something I will tell my grandchildren about.”
The FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of international football and as such the tournament offers fans the unique experience of seeing so many stars performing at the highest level. “This final marks our twentieth game in the tournament and I have loved the football,” said local resident Dicky Naiker. “To see players such as Torres and Drogba playing here in South Africa makes us proud. Them coming here, to our country, is mind blowing. I hope the World Cup comes back in my lifetime.”
For Zimbabwean national Aaron Chinhara, the World Cup has renewed his love for Africa. “Today I am proud to be African. Throughout this tournament we have seen people from all races, tribes, creeds mingling together nicely. This is a step ahead. We are no longer the continent of disease and poverty, but the continent of joy, happiness and good.”