2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Iniesta, little man for the big occasion

Andres Iniesta of Spain celebrates scoring
© Getty Images

It had looked like it was not to be Andres Iniesta's night. Try as he might, the diminutive schemer was unable to negotiate his way through the Netherlands backline. And on the rare occasions that a sight of Maarten Stekelenburg's goal did come his way, slight indecision saw the chances quickly snatched away.

Yet the Barcelona wizard is clearly the man for the big occasion, as the decisive late strike against Chelsea in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League semi-final and Spain's second in the vital 2-1 group stage win over Chile here at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ had previously shown. Iniesta also combined with Xavi to set up David Villa for La Roja's winner in the Round of 16 against Portugal and, in the 116th minute of the Final, he was again in the right place at the right time to send Spanish spirits soaring.

"I still can barely believe that I got the chance to score the winning goal," said the man of the moment to *FIFA.com *after the final whistle in Johannesburg. "I don't care about the one-on-one miss now. The only thing that matters is that we've won the World Cup."

The only thing that matters is that we've won the World Cup.

After scoring the goal that clinched Spain's first ever FIFA World Cup success, Iniesta lifted up his shirt to reveal a very special message for a friend who is gone but certainly not forgotten. "Yes, I dedicate this to Dani Jarque," he said sadly, of the former Espanyol captain who died at the age of 26 in August last year. "At these moments you have so many memories running through your head, so many emotions.

"Spain deserved to win this World Cup and it’s something to remember, to enjoy and to feel proud of," he continued. "I'm happy, I'm really happy, that I've been able to score these decisive goals. But the whole team's done an excellent job," he said before being enveloped in hugs by his grateful squad-mates.

Such is his reserved nature that even after scoring the winner in the Final Iniesta was keen to eschew the limelight as much as possible. But his colleagues would not allow for that. "We love you Andres, we're the world champions!" chanted Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Cesc Fabregas having pursued Iniesta to the press room. A phrase which, all things considered, is a concise and fitting summary of a memorable night.

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