Liverpool striker Fernando Torres put his name in the history books last night when he scored the winning goal in the European Championships final. His goal, 12 minutes from half-time, gave Spain their first trophy in 44 years, when they last won this competition.
It wasn’t just Torres who won the trophy of course, the team spirit and unity was something that many observers have mentioned as being the difference between this squad and the talented underachievers of past tournaments. Included in that squad were of course some of the Liverpool striker’s club teammates, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina and Álvaro Arbeloa.
For the latter two their role was confined to a run-out in the final group game, when Spain had already qualified. Xabi Alonso also started that game, wearing the captain’s armband, and has had more of a role to play, including coming on last night as a 63rd minute substitute to ensure Spain didn’t throw away what Torres had worked so hard to bring them.
Xabi has tasted major success before, scoring Liverpool’s equaliser in that 2005 European Cup final in Istanbul, and looked quite at home holding the trophy. He’s likely to leave his three club-mates behind now, with a move to Juventus expected to be finalised now that the competition is over.
24-year-old Torres hit a post and forced a number of saves from Jens Lehmann, who embarrassed himself on TV after the game by alleging the game had been fixed, casting aspersions on the Italian referee. But there really wouldn’t have been any need to fix the game, Spain dominated and although Germany had their moments, any goal from them would have been very much against the run of play.
Torres – officially awarded man of the match – said that Spain’s win was deserved: “This is good not just for Spain but for football, because the best team won and that is not always the case. It has been a fantastic season for me – it was fantastic with Liverpool and now a fantastic end of the season for the national team.”
And he wants to add more trophies to the collection he’s now just started: “This is the first big trophy for me and I hope not the last. We are privileged to be in the national team and we have had a chance to live through a beautiful tournament. We are proud to see so many people enjoying it, and now we have the peace of mind that we have achieved what we set out to do.”
Torres also mentioned how important the team spirit has been: “I am happy because my job is to score goals and I have done my job tonight but this was a victory for the unity of the group – it doesn’t often happen that a group gets along so well.”