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Xavi on Spain's victory for the little guy

Xavi Hernández, whose metronomic passing and superb reading of the game made him a pivotal part of Spain's triumph, reflects on the Roja's bid for glory in Austria and Switzerland.
Xavi on Spain's victory for the little guy
Spain midfielder Xavi Hernández at UEFA EURO 2008 ©UEFA.com

Xavi on Spain's victory for the little guy

Xavi Hernández, whose metronomic passing and superb reading of the game made him a pivotal part of Spain's triumph, reflects on the Roja's bid for glory in Austria and Switzerland.

Spain's UEFA EURO 2008 triumph did not merely end the Roja's 44-year wait for a major title, it ushered in a new era, where brain prevailed over brawn, when smaller players found a way of combating physicality. At 1.70m, Xavi Hernández embodied the rise of the little guy: his metronomic passing and superb reading of the game made him a critical part of Spain's triumph – and ultimately player of the tournament. Here he talks about a breakthrough summer – in more ways than one.

Collecting the trophy...
It was beautiful. Perhaps that's a word used too often in football but the truth is that the football we played to win in 2008 was beautiful; not just the attacking side of things but how we were set up on the pitch. We were crowned champions without having to call upon the legendary 'furia española' (Spanish fury). We won playing a style of touch football combined with talented players. Luis [Aragonés] liked to play the game like Cruyff.

Defining moment...
Iker Casillas in the game against Italy. I was on the bench as Luis decided to take me off – I was really angry. It's amazing how badly you suffer – until the shoot-out that is, because then I knew we had Iker. I believed in him and always knew he would be there at the right moment. I feel the same with Víctor Valdés at Barça. I've been watching those guys pulling off saves for a long time now. I knew in Vienna that Iker was there and that history was going to change.

Making a name for myself...
People seemed to discover me at EURO 2008 but I had been playing the same way for years. I suppose it's true that I was gaining in confidence and calmness as that is what success brings – afterwards, as European champions, teams pressed us high up the field and they snapped at us like wolves. We weren't given a metre, not a single second.

Aftermath...
Now, everyone in the world wants to play one-touch football. That's the difference victory makes. If we had lost to Italy at EURO 2008 everything would be different now. People would have been saying that you can't win playing quick passing football, that you need to be more physical.

I think Luis [Aragonés] was the turning point. He took a gamble on the little guys. That started with him; putting players like [Andrés] Iniesta, [Santi] Cazorla, Cesc Fàbregas, [David] Silva and [David] Villa in the team. The revolution started with Luis and we changed this 'furious' attitude to one of having the ball. We proved to the world that you can win in style. Had we not won the EURO we wouldn't have won the [2010 FIFA] World Cup.

Last updated: 15/05/12 10.27CET

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