By Antonio Hermosín Gandul
Tokyo, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- Andrés Iniesta, the hero of the Spanish victory in the 2010 South Africa World Cup final, recalls the happiness he felt of achieving something that seemed unattainable during the tournament.
The midfielder spoke to Efe about the historic victory on 11 July 2010 in Johannesburg before resuming training and the J1 league with Japan’s Vissel Kobe.
Question: Your first victory this season in the Japanese league came thanks to a pass you delivered. How did you feel during the match?
Answer: Good. Growing week by week to get into a rhythm. The best comfort is winning, and we won, therefore I am happy, so let’s see if we can do it again this weekend.
Q: Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of Spain’s World Cup victory against the Netherlands. What does this date mean to you?
R: Many memories come to mind, of situations, experiences. And you get excited because it was something unique. This year is also a symbolic date because it is 10 years (since the event) and we will enjoy it from Japan with great emotion.
Q: What specific memories do you have of the first 90 minutes of the match?
R: A little bit of everything: the intensity of the game, the things that happened, how it ended… When you look back, all those moments come to mind, and above all, the happiness of achieving something that seemed unattainable.
Q: A decade later, do positive memories prevail over negative ones, such as the harshness of the Netherlands’ game?
A: In the end, you mainly stay with the substantial and the positive, with the final victory and the most intense moments we experienced. Every day we spent in South Africa, in Potchefstroom, was a brutal experience and we were great. Above all, coexistence was magnificent and that I think is the most beautiful thing that I took from the World Cup.
Q: Was the good atmosphere among players one of the keys to the World Cup triumph and the 2008 and 2012 Euro victories?
R: It has been rare that I have personally been in a group or changing room where the atmosphere has not been good (…). From then on if there is a lot of confidence, with a lot of belief in what is being done, then even better. And I think that was what happened in South Africa, both among players and staff. There are many circumstances that can come together, and bring you closer to an objective like winning a World Cup, which is practically impossible.
Q: What motto did Vicente del Bosque give you or what did you say to each other before starting extra time in the final?
A: What I remember from those moments is a lot of encouragement among us and teammates who were on the bench. To make that last effort after all the World Cup tournament, and also the confidence that, at least personally, we felt stronger than them and that we got extra time in better shape, something we had to take advantage of.
Q: The 115th minute arrived, and Cesc Fábregas handed you a pass inside the area. Before getting the ball, did you know what you were going to do?
A: Yes, when they lost the ball in the Torres pass and I saw that it was going upfront and that Cesc was going to receive it, I more or less knew where the goal was and where I was. Waiting for the pass and knowing that due to my position, the shot I wanted to make was a very angled and strong cross-shot for Stekelenburg (goalkeeper for the Netherlands). In the end, not everything we planned happened, but enough to end in a goal.
Q: Your role with La Roja was of creative midfielder and specialist in the last pass. Were you surprised to be the one to score the final goal in the final?
R: In a way, no. It is clear that the goals are usually made by forwards, and we had forwards of a very high level. The “Guaje” (David Villa) was top in that World Cup, we had Fernando (Torres)… And the midfielders, if we could help in that area, much better. It was also a game where the strength and drive you had left could do more than anything else. And in that sense, by the end of the game and extra time, I felt very strong. So I ended up coming to the area, losing my marker and in a forward position.
Q: When you saw the ball in the net, what went through your mind?