one year later – Iniesta, VDB & Iker at Marca
Meanwhile, Marca has interviews with Andrés Iniesta and Vicente del Bosque, as well as an article on Iker Casillas, in their World Cup coverage. Hearing these men talking about those special moments has made me very emotional.
The original interview can be found here.
The name of Andrés Iniesta will always be linked to the history of the World Cup.
That’s the reality. I’m proud to have been part of this history, and to have lived and enjoyed such a historic moment.
What has changed?
I’ve changed on the outside, but on the inside, I’m still the same.
What was July 11 like?
I remember that everything was very normal, almost as if it were just one more game. I remember how everyone was tranquil. I don’t know how to explain this tranquility, even though we were about to play in the first World Cup final for Spain.
Did you imagine at any moment that you would become the nation’s hero?
No. After debuting with the national team in Albacete in 2006, one of the greatest things that has happened to me, it was very difficult to imagine that two years later, we were going to win the Eurocopa and then the World Cup. Winning one of the two is already something that’s priceless and Spain had never been so close to being world champions.
Talk about how you heard silence before scoring.
It was an incredible moment. It seemed like the entire world had stopped, as if they had all been frozen. I controlled the ball, it bounced perfectly for me to shoot, and I knew that it was going to go in. Why? I can’t explain it, but I knew. It had to be a goal, it was Spain’s moment. There were many more from that moment. Running to to corner to celebrate, Iker lifting up the Cup… there are many very special moments that all of us will always remember. That 116th minute is one of the most special moments of my life.
You then ran to the corner. Do you have any clear images of what happened there?
More images than sounds.
Webb blew the whistle and…
I fell down on the ground. Víctor Valdés came running up, but he couldn’t get any words out. He just cried and cried [and I’m crying remembering this.]
And there was the tribute to Dani Jarque.
Before the final, I had spent days pondering how I could dedicate something to him. In the locker room, I saw Sergio and Navas putting on shirts with Puerta’s photo. I started thinking. Then Torres came up to me. He had also been with me and Dani in the U-19 team when we were champions of Europe. He told me, do what you are thinking of for Dani [more tears].
All of this before the final began?
Yes. I went up to a fisio and I told him, “put this on the shirt.” While he was doing it, we went out onto the field to warm up. When I returned to the locker room, there was the shirt for Dani, but I didn’t think in that moment that I would score, it was to show if we won.
What did Jarque mean to you?
A great friend who will always be with me [still crying]. The image of the World Cup is not the goal, it’s the celebration because that way he’ll always be remembered [now sobbing].
What comes to your head when you hear “Soccer City?”
It’s the stadium in which we were crowned champions, a field that will always be in our minds.
Is Spain’s style the football for the 21st century?
The national team has worked like this for a while. It’s what we feel comfortable with, what Luis and Del Bosque has transmitted. The players identify with this way of playing. When things go well, and Spain goes well, you have to maintain and strengthen it.
The months prior to the World Cup were tough.
It’s true that I had a bad time due to the injuries and other things. For me, it was the triumph of hard work. In life, nothing is easy, although at times it may seem like that. Everything needs effort. You have to try and overcome things when they go badly. That’s how my career has been, and I believe it’s been like that for others as well. Injuries teach you to mature and to value what you have.
An example is the World Cup. We started out as favorites, but after the first game…
We knew that the favorites tag would be dangerous. We’ve almost always gone into final phases with a lot of expectation. It’s true that the Swiss game was a big and unexpected blow, but the team showed their greatness during those difficult moments.
Iniesta is today a sainted last name in Spain. How would you like to be remembered?
As a person that gave everything for Barça and for the national team, and for being honest on the field.
There’s also an article on Iker, though it doesn’t mention that perfect profile.
His hands were the first ones to touch the Eurocopa on June 29, 2008, and the World Cup on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg. “The truth is, Africa brings me luck,” Iker says with a smile, remembering that 11 years before South Africa, in Nigeria, he won the U-20 World Cup with Xavi and Marchena. The Spanish goalkeeper was in his third World Cup. After two great deceptions, and after the Eurocopa had broken Spain’s string of bad luck, Iker was sure that the moment had come: “it was this World Cup, I was convinced, as was the entire team. Torres forced his recovery because he had this feeling. It was South Africa or South Africa.”
Regarding the final and the possibility of it going into penalties, “it’s true that playing in the final was already historical, but we couldn’t lose. If this had happened, it would have scarred me for the rest of my life. It already happened in the World Cup in Korea. I don’t want to know anything about what happened there, of those penalties.” The most intense moment was between Iniesta’s goal and the final whistle. “When Andrés scored, I ran, I jumped up, I threw myself on the ground, I cried, I hugged Busquets. I spent a moment thinking that I was going to be the first one to touch the Cup. When the referee blew the whistle, I was in a state of shock and I don’t remember many things.”
Iniesta scored the goal, but Iker had been there before in two plays that might have sent Spain home. “When I faced Robben alone, many things came to mind. I thought that he was going to feint, look for the goal or an expulsion. I threw myself out and he shot. If I had launched myself a bit before, it’s very possible that I wouldn’t be here today. Luckily, it wasn’t like that.”
The magic moment came when Joseph Blatter put the doradita (the little golden one), as Capdevila called it, into Iker’s hands. “In that moment, I thought about how Spain was suffering. And how we all suffered to become world champions.” The captain doesn’t hide the fact that against Chile and Honduras, he had some panicky moments: “I didn’t sleep, I had butterflies in my stomach the entire time. That we could be heading home after the first phase was something that scared me. Passing through was a liberation.” As for Sara Carbonero, everything that happened “made me furious. They used her to criticize me. But the good guys always end up winning.”
Vicente del Bosque
And there’s also a very long interview with Vicente del Bosque. Here are the parts related to the World Cup, since that’s what we’re celebrating! I previously described him as pure class and goodness, and after reading this interview, you’ll agree that humble and generous have to be added to that list as well.
How many times have you watched the final?
I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen pieces, the most important parts, but not the entire game.
Perhaps because I have it all inside my head. I want to say one thing: a lot has been said about the Dutch players, that they didn’t behave correctly, but I believe that those five or six violent tackles aren’t typical of the Dutch, because they’ve always played football well and they captivated all of us in the three finals they played.
What do you remember about that day?
We had the same routine as always, without changing anything. We continued along the same lines as we had during the 50 days of the concentración. Although a lot of focus is placed on the last day, the important thing is what is done before. For example, I’m against long concentraciones. We wanted to have an equilibrium between games, training sessions and rest. We gave the players a lot of rest before the tournament. We didn’t want them to be mentally spent. We changed cities, first in Madrid, then Austria, then Murcia. In South Africa, we were at a great site, very comfortable.
We suffered against Switzerland.
Yes, we suffered. It was a huge pain, internal, because we hadn’t expected it. We didn’t deserve it, but in football it’s not often there’s a direct relationship between what you do and what you achieve.
Did you see a lot of players cry in the locker room after the final?
I saw a bit of everything. Each one expresses his emotions in his own way. Now, when I’m watching these specials, Iniesta catches my eye, because he’s very in control of his emotions. But look, winning a World Cup is the biggest thing for a footballer. Apart from this, these boys feel football, they’re not detached from their profession, they adore what they do.
Did you cry after the victory?
No. Each one has his own feelings, our own personal experiences. I would have liked for my parents to have been able to attend this game. These things do go through your mind.
What decision caused the most tension?
The pain of seeing those 12 players on the bench. Twelve boys who are starters with their clubs come here and have to sit on the bench. For them, it was an unknown experience. It was very important the spirit those 12 on the bench had. That could be seen in how they jumped up, how they lived the games. It’s hard to be there when you’re not the protagonist.
Did you scold anyone?
No, I don’t believe in that. I believe in persuasion.
Busquets. Did you have any doubts as to his starting status?
None. He had the ideal conditions to play there.
But the press was very critical of him after Switzerland.
They talked a lot, but both Busquets and Xabi Alonso were fundamental. They corrected many things. Sometimes they limited their own possibilities to shine for the good of the team.
Why did you play Pedro against Germany?
He was on the list because he had had a great season. With respect to starting him against Germany, we thought about Lahm. I wanted Pedro there not to detain him, but to attack. That day, Lahm didn’t come up very often and he wasn’t the habitual oxygen in the middle.
Is it true that before the game against Chile, on the autobus, you could hear a pin drop?
Yes. A very impacting silence.
Did that worry you?
In no way. The coaches have to adapt. I remember Miljanic in Madrid, who would say, “no words, no words” one hour before the game started. Now you go into the locker room of the national team and you hear music. But if they feel comfortable like that, I have no problems.
Was Nadal’s presence in the locker room special for you?
The federation has images of Nadal entering with a Spanish flag. In the beginning, I didn’t notice him, because I thought he was one more player. It was great seeing him, because he’s a exemplary as a person and as an athlete. I liked seeing him as one of the guys. It was very emotional.
Hierro has said that you’re the most important man in Spain in the last year.
I’ve only been a coach that decided to follow the road that was laid out. I hope that when we’re gone, whoever comes along will have a similar road. I prefer to talk about Hierro and what he’s meant to Spanish football, first as a player and in the last four years as the sporting director. He’s been a perfect professional, with character, who’s sacrificed and on many occasions, received unjust criticism for defending his people.
What was your reaction to being named a marquis?
I’m very grateful to the royal family. In a reception, the king said to Casillas, “I believe you all teased Del Bosque a lot after he became a marques.” And Casillas answered him, laughing, “Majesty, you should have made all 23 of us marquises.”
The image of your son on the team bus was wonderful. Is it true that it’s had an unexpected repercussion in the world?
We’ve received messages and petitions from many associations related to handicaps. It’s a difficult world that needs to become more visible socially. They’re very grateful. I’ve received messages from Ukraine, Hungary, Chile, Argentina. Some asked us for a hand in organizing a game and we’ll try and help.
Is Álvaro still a fan of Xavi?
Of course. A while ago, he wrote him a letter because he received the shirt Xavi had played his 100th game in. He told him, very affectionately, “my father didn’t allow me to go watch you.”
Iniesta had a difficult year. Were you especially happy that it was him who scored the goal?
I would have been happy for whoever scored, but one of the things people will remember is the gestures of Iniesta towards Jarque. I found the standing ovation in Espanyol’s field extraordinary.
Has success changed you?
I don’t believe so.
How about the players?