For so long regarded as international football's great underachievers, Spain could always hold up their 1964 UEFA European Championship triumph as an argument to the contrary. Nearly 80,000 fans turned out at the Santiago Bernabéu to watch the hosts defeat holders the Soviet Union 2-1 in the final. Chief among the Spain team was talismanic midfielder Luis Suárez, who had already helped Internazionale Milano to the first of back-to-back European Cups that season and later went on to coach his nation at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Here, though, he focuses solely on 1964.
Spain's collective strength…
We were a good team, but possibly not one of the best Spain has had because many important players were missing like Alfredo Di Stéfano [who had recently retired], and Francisco Gento and Luis del Sol were left out by the coach after a few arguments. It was very risky, but in the end it all went well. We played well as a team. We were very compact and the players understood and complemented each other very well, partly because they came from only a few clubs.
There was only one player with a lot of international experience – me! I was the oldest player [at 29] and I was already playing abroad. But I emphasise again that it was a team, rather than a selection of top players, and this teamwork was the crucial element in our triumph.
Other Spain sides that I played in were much better than the one we had in 1964 yet we never managed to achieve anything.
We had great support from the Spanish people. The fans identified with us, maybe because we were a very young team willing to achieve something. That helped us a lot, it brought a lot of calm to the team, and they actually eased the pressure on us. Even if a mistake was made – and with this young team the risk was high – the fans supported us and helped everybody. There was not a moment where the fans criticised any of the players, and that helped a lot.
My main memory is of the atmosphere because the Bernabéu was full. And at the time the capacity was much greater than it is now. They didn't put seating in until the  World Cup. It was full. What's more, we had suffered a lot during the semi-final against Hungary, so the fans were in the right frame of mind to get behind us right from the start. That gave us a great sense of security and helped us to stay calm.
That special atmosphere on the pitch and in the stands is one of the things that I especially remember from that final, alongside the good performance of our team – because in those days Russia had a very good team indeed. We deserved to win. Nobody really expected it.
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