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Costume changes have become a feature of trophy lifts in recent years, with players removing tops or tracksuits to don valedictory or personally meaningful T-shirts and ensure they look their best for photos destined for posterity. Few such metamorphoses have been as laudable as Andrés Palop's at UEFA EURO 2008.
As Spain celebrated the end of a 44-year wait for major silverware, the goalkeeper ran into the tunnel, emerging with a distinctive green jersey – Luis Arconada's shirt from 1984 – and a burning desire to right a wrong. For 24 years Arconada had been synonymous with a solitary slip that allowed Michel Platini to score for France against Spain in the UEFA European Championship final. In Vienna, replacement keeper Palop acknowledged his predecessor's broader contribution, as he tells UEFA.com.
I remember how in the EURO '84 semi-final against Denmark, Arconada was the one who secured Spain their place in the final with his saves. So I really hoped to see Arconada lift that trophy. I thought that with the run Spain were on, we could become champions, but I knew France had a very strong team and it wouldn't be easy. All those hopes of mine to see them lift the trophy were denied with that defeat in Paris. Indeed, that final is remembered for the mistake Arconada made. I started to cry. I was a boy of ten back then, but I remember it perfectly.
Arconada is remembered for that mistake. And that is something that always annoyed me. I was able to pay a little homage to Arconada when we won the EURO final, with a gesture to set things straight. You can't judge a person on one mistake – you have to look at their whole career, their titles and achievements. Arconada had a lot more to offer than that one mistake. So that was the respect I paid, to give him credit.
I had thought about sending a message to Arconada, for him to be remembered as a great goalkeeper who conveyed a lot of values, hopes and motivation to youngsters. I was discussing it with the press at Sevilla, and there was a journalist who was also a big fan of Arconada and who was also very good friends with him. He had a shirt of his at home. So we built up a special friendship based around Arconada. Then, at EURO, we thought about whether we should do something special.
After the semi-final I called him and told him that if we won the final I would like to put on Arconada's shirt – could I could borrow it? The journalist was delighted, because he also thought it was something Arconada deserved. Through friends in Seville he had it sent to the airport. They delivered the shirt to me at my hotel and I kept it in my suitcase. After the final whistle was blown and we won, I ran to the dressing room to get it and put it on. That is why there are pictures of me in that shirt with the trophy.
When I came up to the stage to pick up my medal, I told [UEFA President Michel] Platini that I was wearing the shirt in honour of Arconada; it was from when he [Platini] scored against Luis, and it was a little homage to him, because I thought he deserved to win that trophy and now we were picking it up. Platini said he had actually invited Arconada to come to that final and that he was actually there. He was sure he would be very pleased with the gesture.
With all the humility in the world, I think the image of Arconada has become more positive. Arconada is now better known for the great work he did inspiring our generation, rather than that one mistake he made.
Andrés Palop was talking to José Ángel Risco
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