Vicente del Bosque had two themes on his mind when he arrived in Kyiv following Spain's dramatic UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final victory against Portugal – bravery and history.
The 61-year-old had seen La Roja turn a 1-0 shoot-out deficit into a daring win courtesy of Sergio Ramos' Panenka-style penalty, Iker Casillas' save from João Moutinho and Bruno Alves' effort hitting the crossbar, leaving Cesc Fàbregas to produce the same steely nerve he had four years earlier in a spot-kick contest with Italy.
Del Bosque was proud of, and impressed by, the efforts of his team. "We are here representing the whole of Spain and thanks to these guys we are on the point of achieving something that nobody has managed before if we can win on Sunday," he said, referring to the opportunity to win a third successive major international tournament.
“It's proof of sporting advances in the football world but I hope that the sense of pride and advancement might also translate to Spanish society," he added. "Already we've achieved something for everyone to be proud of and should we make history in the final then that would be even more the case."
Del Bosque confessed that the dramatic resolution to the Iberian derby had been extremely tense but made it clear that his faith in the technique and nerve of his players was absolute. "The guys who stepped forward took penalties because they offered themselves, they believed in themselves.
"They are bold, daring footballers who had more to lose than to gain, but they were sure of themselves and that's enough for me. Ramos is a confident guy and I've not said anything about the cheeky way he took the penalty, although there were one or two jokes among the players.
"We were a bit daring throughout the match, too. The most important evidence of that was our policy on substitutions. It was a tense decision to put Pedro [Rodríguez] on [in the 87th minute] because he was our third change and there was a long way to go, meaning that if we had an injury then we had no chance of a replacement.
"But I wanted him and Jesús Navas on together because I wanted the game won. We thought we could take the attack to Portugal and win in extra time and, really, we were on the point of pulling it off. As far as the final is concerned, I don't care who we play – all I want is for us to show the style of football we are so passionate about and try to make history by winning."
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