Multiple men made central contributions to ‘The Red Fury’ conquering the sport at Soccer City. Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta and David Villa were indubitably among them.
Reflecting on the FIFA World Cup™ success he shepherded five-and-a-half-years on, however, Vicente Del Bosque has heralded two other members of his herd: Xavi and Sergio Busquets.
“We had some difficult moments in 2010,” Del Bosque told www.sc.qa in an exclusive interview in Qatar. “We must not forget that we lost our first match against Switzerland and it was very hard for us, because winning a World Cup is not easy. There are many great teams and we were fortunate we could count on a generation of very good players led by Xavi Hernandez on the pitch.
“Xavi was one of the players that led the group on the pitch and off it in terms of ensuring good inter-personal relationships. Both things are equally important. We got on very well within the team, and this teamwork laid the foundation to our success. We did have good players, and we were determined that Spain had to become world champions.
“I have been surrounded by football my entire life and Spain had never got close to winning a World Cup. In 2010 it was a feeling of having done things well, of having fulfilled the goal. The reality is that we did enjoy it a lot, and I hope it won’t be Spain’s only World Cup win. Hopefully we will be able to win other World Cups in the near future.”
One of the competitions Del Bosque was referring to is Qatar 2022, and his visit to the Arabian Peninsula country has convinced the former midfielder that it will prove a major spectacle.
“You can see that the government cares about sports and about the training of its young people, and this is extremely important to any society and country,” said Del Bosque. “I think FIFA has the obligation of taking football to every corner of the world. It is a universal sport and we want the best for football. We are passionate. We are ‘romantic’ about football, so the idea seems good to us. Qatar are investing a lot of money in sports and have realised that football is an extraordinary tool for the education of society, and this is very good for the sport.”
First, though, Spanish thoughts are on capturing an unprecedented third consecutive UEFA EURO crown. After a disappointing Brazil 2014, several mainstays of the side – including Xavi – retired from international football. Del Bosque nevertheless believes that in Busquets, whom he has “no doubt” is the best holding midfielder on the planet, La Roja Furia have an engine-room inspiration to succeed the ‘Puppet Master’.
“Busquets and Xavi are different type of players,” said the 64-year-old. “Sergio is certainly a midfielder who will lead the team like Xavi did. I’ve had no doubts about Busquets since winning in 2010. We can’t forget that he was attacked heavily during that defeat against Switzerland, and we stood the test. We believed in him, and he showed us that we were right.
“We also have young Thiago [Alcantara] and Koke. And, of course, we still have Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla. All these players have served us well and are still very good.
“Hopefully we will win [France 2016]. We are preparing for it. The qualifiers were difficult for us. We could have qualified with a little more ease, but we had a difficult period over the early stages. And now we hope to repeat the success of Kiev. Germany and France are strong candidates. Belgium, Italy, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Russia will be tough opponents too.”