One of the things which happens more and more when you do this job is that people ask you to predict things – a starting lineup, a result, the man of the tournament. Obviously, the longer there is a burning curiosity about football and all its details around the world the better for a freelance journalist like me, but with the advent of the internet and then social networking media, like Twitter for example, the hunger for information and opinion grows exponentially by the month.
The three most common questions asked to me this tournament would be: Cesc Fàbregas or Fernando Torres? Will Spain win the tournament? And, who will win the award for the best player at UEFA EURO 2012?
For the last few weeks and months I've been writing and broadcasting that Spain would win here in Poland and Ukraine, although I must confess I had envisaged a Spain v Germany final. Why? Well, put simply, gut feeling. It's an intangible but you learn to put extra value on certain words, gestures, general body language and even the briefest of off-the-record chats.
We have occasionally watched full Spain training sessions at UEFA EURO 2012, taken journeys with the team, and spent time in and around their hotel, as well as conducting interviews with the players, so it's probably worth posting a gentle warning to those who want to end this Spanish golden age and wrench their FIFA World Cup title off them in two years – the feeling is strong enough to suggest that Spain will still be just as hungry and competitive in 2014.
After Sunday's 4-0 final victory in Kyiv, I had the great privilege to take a UEFA cameraman into the winning dressing room so that he could record footage for the official film of the tournament. Without giving away too many secrets, it's fair to say that the atmosphere was a little surprising.
There was general happiness certainly and a little sing-song for Prince Felipe of "Campeones, campeones, oé, oé, oé”. However, there was not anything close to wild abandon or massive euphoria.
Four years ago, high spirits saw Luis Aragonés's squad burst into the post-match flash zone, where German's Bastian Schweinsteiger was being interviewed, doing a long conga while singing Viva España. Having waited 44 years for a trophy, there was an explosion of joy and the Spanish didn't care who saw them celebrate.
Two years ago I was also lucky enough to be filming inside the winning dressing room at Soccer City. I was struck by the fact that the atmosphere was so different – calmer, more tired and with quiet satisfaction replacing bullish exuberance. At the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv, it was just like the players had returned home after a smooth, normal day at the office.
The dressing room was packed with little children running around, kicking footballs and eating fruit. The winning finalists, still in their playing kit, knelt down on the floor to join in the games, or lifted a son or daughter up to their chests. Girlfriends and wives mingled in, while David Villa and Carles Puyol soaked up the atmosphere while keeping themselves a little separate from centre stage.
A small queue of players in the far right corner had their pictures taken with the Henri Delaunay Cup, but generally the feeling was just that a group of top professionals had done no more than they were able to and had expected to all along.
The biggest change since 2008 is that this squad is not only fully addicted to winning, they are 100% clear about what tasks repeated victories demand.
It's no more than a strong feeling as I complete this last Spain blog of the tournament, but I'd say the vast majority of this squad intend to be around in two years time, and to win a fourth successive major trophy in Brazil. Impressive as their performances were, this was business as usual. Thanks for reading along on UEFA.com and viva España.
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