más secretos – champions of the world IV
I thought it would be nice ahead of tonight’s clásico (and all the craziness that can arise from these games) to take a look back at how Real Madrid and Barcelona players (and other teams’ players) worked together to achieve the greatest triumph in Spanish football history. So, here is the chapter from Más secretos about the 2010 World Cup final.
By the way, are Luca Villa and Luca Reina destined to be best friends, or are they destined to be best friends?
The Netherlands (July 11, Soccer City, Johannesburg).
On July 9, the team had their last training session in Potch, and on the next day, they traveled to Johannesburg. Meanwhile, back in Spain, 1,200 passengers flew to South Africa, many of them the players’ families and friends. For the players, it was impossible to be calm no matter how hard they tried. Reina says, “we weren’t going to be satisfied just with being there. We weren’t afraid of failing and we wanted to finish the job.” Busquets remembers, “I felt butterflies in my stomach. I asked Casillas and Xavi how they were. They told me good, but they had that thing in their bodies that told them they were living a unique moment.”
On the day of the final, Xabier Arbizu prepared the following menu. For starters, the players could choose between consommé, spaghetti (with a sauce made from tomatoes, meat and grated cheese) or white rice. The main dish was grilled chicken or sole, and mashed potatoes. The dessert buffet had sliced fruit (pineapples, melons, watermelons, strawberries, kiwis, oranges), whole fruit (bananas, grapes, apples, oranges, pears), fruit salad, fat free yogurt (plain and flavored, with or without fruit) and fat free Actimel. The drinks were mineral water without gas, freshly squeezed orange juice and lemon tea. After the meal, the players went up to their rooms to rest. Some of them could not fall asleep.
In one room of the hotel were 23 shirts that had been stamped with a star above the crest of the Federation. Spain was playing the final as the visiting team, so they were going to wear their second kit, the blue one, which they had already used against Chile and Paraguay. The players didn’t like that and proposed that if they won, they would go up to receive the World Cup in their red shirts. Adidas took the idea one step further, believing this was the ideal moment to debut the shirt with a star. The only condition that the captains had was that the shirts be hidden away until the moment came. Once they received permission, Adidas and the RFEF began to emboss the stars, finishing at two in the morning. The Adidas employees wanted the players to take a look at them, but none of the players were willing to see them, in case it brought them bad luck.
The afternoon snack was more or less what they had for breakfast; the only thing missing was the jamón serrrano. Available were coffee, milk, Cola Cao, tea, mineral water, orange juice, toast, cereal, cookies, nuts and dried fruits, scrambled eggs, cheese, ham, turkey breast, tomatoes with olive oil, fat free yogurt, Actimel and fruit. During the last chat, Del Bosque told his players, “we are privileged to be here. We are all romantics and we love our profession. We’re not soldiers whose lives are on the line. We’re only footballers.” Xavi says, “the míster looked a bit nervous to me. He was sweating more than he usually did.” Cesc adds, “although I knew that I was not going to play, I had never experienced such an intense chat.”
There was silence on the bus on the way to the stadium. This time, it was a silence of responsibility. Some players chatted with each other using their phones. In the locker room, Sergio Ramos took out a shirt with Antonio Puerta’s name on it, intending to wear it to receive the World Cup if everything went well. That was when Llorente went up to Iniesta and reminded him, “Andrew, don’t forget Jarque.” For some time, Iniesta had wanted to publicly dedicate something to his good friend. He says, “I had been thinking about doing something ever since it happened, but I didn’t find the right moment.” Before going out to warm up, Andrés asked Hugo Camarero to write the words “Dani Jarque, always with us” on the shirt he was going to wear under his jersey. When he returned, it was ready. Navas prepared another with a message in memory of Puerta.
Dr. Cota did his usual pre-game ritual, which was to give two kisses to Casillas: “those are goalkeeper rituals. I was also a goalkeeper, but obviously at a much more modest level. I usually also kiss the two backup goalkeepers before the game begins. It’s a way to protect them.”
In the tunnel, the wait turned eternal. Ramos shouted, “Let’s go! It’s now or never!” Sergio, who likes to walk out onto the field immediately behind the captain, exchanged a few words with Iker: “he told me that he was very nervous, although it wasn’t apparent. At least he’s able to change the ‘chip’ when the game starts so that he is focused on it.” The players passed by the World Cup on the way out. Capdevila says, “although you don’t want to, it’s impossible not to notice it. I was surprised by how shiny it was. I got goosebumps.”
In one play, De Jong’s boot connected with Xabi Alonso’s chest. Xabi says, “in that moment, I thought, ‘what happened?’ It was a very violent shock. I felt everything cracking: my back, my hips… Those are things that happen in football and I don’t blame him. Of course he should have been sent off, but nothing more. If I see him again, I won’t have any problems greeting him.” Arbeloa jokes, “you know why it wasn’t a serious injury? Because he has a lot of chest hair and that helped to absorb the blow…” [Jajaja!!!!!]
On one play, Sneijder passed the ball between Piqué and Puyol to leave Robben alone in front of Casillas. Robben sprinted towards Iker, and no one was able to catch up to him. He shot with his left foot, Iker stretched out his right leg and the ball hit his foot and went to the right of the goal. Iker says, “I know Robben well since we played together with Madrid. I saw that Piqué and Puyol were running behind him on his left, so I sensed that if he dribbled towards me, he would do it on the other side, my left. That’s why I stayed there until he got to me, and at that moment, he took a shot. I thrust out my leg and the ball hit the outside part of my foot. I knew that the ball would go out because it hit me hard.”
Later in the game, Robben had another occasion against Iker, this time with Puyol. Iker reacted like a cat, diving to the ground to get to the ball. Puyol says, “I didn’t know whether to run forward to force an offside or run backwards, and he used my hesitation to get into position. The only thing I could do was make his run difficult. Iker was immense. His saves are worth just as much as Andrés’ goal.” Iker says, “for me, I had a worse time of this play than the other one. Luckily, Arjen stumbled when he came into contact with Puyi and that gave me an extra few tenths of a second which I used to dive to the ground and snatch the ball away.”
Minute 116. Andrés Iniesta. Goal. “I felt that it was just the ball and me, I had the impression that the entire stadium went silent. By the time I controlled the ball, I already knew that it would end in a goal. I was convinced. It had to be that way, for how the game went, for the moment, for everything. I kicked it hard so that Stekelenburg wouldn’t have time to react.” Andrés looked at the linesman out of the corner of his eye to ensure that the play was valid and then began running to the corner to celebrate. On the way there, he took off his jersey so that the world could read the words that Hugo Camarero had written. Iniesta says, “I’m very happy that this was one of the images of the World Cup. Whenever someone sees a repetition of this goal or a photograph of the celebration, they will see Dani’s name. I know that he gave me a lot of strength in this game. It was a very sentimental moment for me.”
Every Spaniard remembers where they were in the moment when Iniesta scored the goal, and who they hugged first. Andrés says, “many times people stop me on the street to tell me. Some of them told me that they injured themselves celebrating the goal. One guy twisted his ankle when he fell down the stairs and finished the night on crutches…”
Starters and substitutes piled on top of Iniesta. One of the few that didn’t join in that celebration was Casillas, who fell to his knees and began crying like a little kid as he tried to wipe the tears away with his gloves. Busquets went up to him to hug him. Then he went back to position after he heard Del Bosque say, “be attentive!” Del Bosque extracted himself from Miguel Gutiérrez’ hug and shouted “¡Tranquilos, tranquilos!” He didn’t want to find himself in the same situation as Slaven Bidic, the coach of Croatia during the 2008 Eurocopa. In the semifinal against Turkey, Ivan Klasnic put Croatia up in the last minute of the overtime and Bidic celebrated the goal like crazy. Turkey managed to then tie the game thanks to a volley from Semih Senturk. Croatia then lost the game in the penalty shootout. Del Bosque says, “I remembered that. Later on, I met Bidic at a coaching conference where he admitted that he should have saved his energy to end the game.”
When the final whistle blew, Iker was preparing to take a goal kick. Arbeloa shot off the bench with one goal in mind: to get the game ball from Iker. He sprinted towards Iker. Meanwhile, the captain was crying uncontrollably. He handed the ball to Arbeloa. He says, “Iker was completely out of it and when he saw me coming, he gave it to me. He’s reminded me of it many times since then. He says that I took it away from him, but you can clearly see in the images that he gave it to me willingly.” Arbeloa also has the balls from the semifinal and final of the 2008 Eurocopa, the third place game of the Confederations Cup and the quarterfinal game of the World Cup. He says, “after the game against Paraguay, a FIFA official came into the locker room asking for the ball. He wasn’t successful. The day of the semifinal, I got the ball again and I gave it to Toni, the equipment manager, so that he could watch over it. FIFA managed to take it away from him.”
Others who are not as professional at this as Arbeloa make do with any ball, whether it was used during the game or not. Reina jokes, “I like to think that the one I have was the one that Andrés used to score the goal.” Mata also didn’t go home empty-handed: “I grabbed the ball out of the hands of one of the ball boys. He told me that I had to return it, but I ran away with it under my shirt, paying him no attention.”
Listening to the players, it’s not clear who ended up with the actual game ball. Arbeloa knows: “they can say what they want, but on the day of the Eurocopa final, while everyone was running towards the center of the field, I went for the ball. I remember perfectly that Casillas took a goal kick that went out of bounds. There are many balls used in finals, but I have the two that finished the games.”
Tears fell down many of the players’ faces. Iniesta sank down to his knees and looked up at the sky. Valdés ran to him, and fell on top of him. Casillas had begun crying again. Torres was in pain in the locker room. Dr. Cota went in there to bring him out for the celebration. Leaning on Dr. Cota and Raúl Martínez, Torres was able to return to the field, in time to see the players toss Del Bosque up in the air. As Puyol went up to hug Del Bosque, he heard an order. Vicente whispered to him, “you cannot leave now.” Puyol says, “I froze. In that moment, that was the last thing I expected to hear.” The players then took off their blue shirts to put on the red ones, staring at the stars on their chests.
Casillas was the last one to receive his medal and the first one to receive the trophy, all 6.175 kilos of it, while he stood up on the glass railing with his teammates supporting him from below. He says, “I gave a shout, half out of relief, half out of joy. I wanted people to get a good look at the cup.”
The celebration then moved to the field. Javi Martínez, meanwhile, ran back to the locker room to get his phone and call his friend Ayoze. He and the rest of their group of friends – Rúper, Omar, Sergio, Iván – weren’t able to take their road trip to the U.S., but Javi had invited them to come watch the final, paying for the plane and game tickets. Javi wanted to ask them for a flag of Ayegui. Busquets, Reina and Villa wore Badía, Córdoba and Tuilla scarves, respectively.
Iker and Xavi were hugging it out on the sign that read “congratulations.” Iker asked Xavi, “what’s left for us? We’ve won everything.” Before returning to the locker room, Casillas was interviewed by Sara Carbonero. He ended the interview with a kiss. In a 2011 interview with Marca, Casillas said, “people were very unjust with Sara, mixing things that shouldn’t have been mixed, looking for controversy… but in the end, the good guy always wins.”
Cesc went into the stands to share a few moments with his parents, sister, grandfather and girlfriend. He had told them not to travel to South Africa because he wasn’t playing much: “they know that when I don’t play a lot, I become a pain. In the end, I changed my mind and told them to come. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, since I could never have imagined what would happen.”
Piqué went up to the goal where Iniesta had scored, asking the FIFA operators who were taking down the net if he could have it. He says, “I collect them. I took the entire nets from the two Champions Leagues that Barça won. I cut them into small pieces and hand them out to my friends. But the one from Soccer City was impossible to get. After a long argument with them and making myself a pain, I only got them to cut off a little piece for me. I have it framed. They told me the net was for the sponsors and there was no way they would give it me.”
The journalists took up position in the mixed zone to get the players’ first impressions on the win. Soon, a figure appeared wearing an ice bucket on his head. He had the World Cup in his hand and brought it up to us. I was one of the first Spaniards to touch the Cup and it made me shiver. The footballer then revealed himself, shouted “here you go!” and took off running for the locker room. Paloma Antoranz had to intervene to get the trophy back. Later on, Javi Martínez copied Capdevila, putting an ice bucket on his head to celebrate.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia appeared in the locker room, along with Plácido Domingo, who sang “Que viva España,” and Rafa Nadal. Cesc was taking photos with his phone when he heard someone say, “I told you that you would end up being important.” Cesc smiled and turned to hug Iker: “Iker helped me a lot and he was watching over me the entire tournament. He gave me a lot of moral support. You can see he’s a great captain.” Xavi was reading all the messages on his phone when Ángel María Villar told him that Míchel Platini wanted his shirt. Pelopo agreed to the request, handing over one of his two game shirts.
One of the last players to appear in the locker room was Sergio Ramos, who had first gone to the opposing locker room to console his friends Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. In the days before the game, he had exchanged many messages with them: “I was speaking with them in their locker room. There’s always time to celebrate, but football is so unjust that in a few years’ time, many will have forgotten about the fantastic World Cup they played. I wanted to be with them to cheer them up because they were very sad. They’re good friends.”
There was also this conversation between Cesc and Iniesta as the former was being interviewed.
Iniesta: “don’t be such a pain.”
Cesc: “¡Máquina! ¡Espectacular! You deserve it.”
Iniesta: “don’t be such an idiot. If it weren’t for your pass, there wouldn’t be a goal.”
Cesc: “whatever! You scored a golazo, nene…”
Iniesta: “whatever! Get on the bus, hostias!”
Iniesta guarded the shirt he scored the goal with like a treasure, reserving a place for it in his own personal museum. As he was putting it there, he found another shirt signed by Fernando Torres that read, “don’t worry. Our World Cup will come.” In 2001, Iniesta and Torres were on the U-17 team taking part in a World Cup. Spain was unable to pass the first round. When Iniesta saw that shirt, he sent Torres a message. Torres says, “I was on vacation and I didn’t even remember writing that, but it made me smile. We’ve been playing together on the national team since we were 15 and that time, we exchanged shirts and signed them for each other. It appears that I’m a psychic…”
La Roja left their mark on Potch. In North West University, there are 33 photographs, 10 group shots and 23 individual shots. The RFEF had sent them there before the World Cup, and they were put up in the dining room, the gym, the hallways and locker rooms, mixing with photos that were already there. Written on each photo was the noun that best described the player. Javier Miñano, who came up with the idea, said it was to make the headquarters as welcoming as possible and to subtly help the players get into the right mindset for the practices and games. Each member of the coaching staff, plus Fernando Hierro, suggested one word for each player, and the one that received the most votes was the one written on the photo. The words on the group shots were: simplicity, team spirit, humility, team, leadership, concentration, pride, emotion, responsibility, hard work. On the individual photos, they were: effort, ambition, control, personality, energy, confidence, hard work, quality, decision, experience, speed, intelligence, balance, power, fight, concentration, efficiency, security, responsibility, skill, direction, firmness and strength. Each player signed his photograph before leaving. Del Bosque and his staff prefer not to reveal which word belonged to which player. If you visit Potchefstroom, take note and tell me.
I love this book! It’s well written, coherent, doesn’t go off on tangents and accurate, unlike some other books I have translated for you on La Roja…
Posted on January 30, 2013, in secretos and tagged arbeloa, busquets, capdevila, cesc, del bosque, iker, iniesta, javi, llorente, mata, navas, pepe, piqué, puyol, sergio, torres, valdés, villa, xabi, xavi. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.