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Iniesta on Spain's 2012 triumph through adversity

Andrés Iniesta reflects on Spain's historic triumph in Poland and Ukraine, how a squad rife with discord found harmony before enjoying the "magical sensation" of victory together.

Andrés Iniesta poses in the dressing room with the Henri Delaunay Cup
Andrés Iniesta poses in the dressing room with the Henri Delaunay Cup ©Getty Images

Having waited 44 years for a major title before 2008, Spain made it an unprecedented three-in-a-row at UEFA EURO 2012. They did so largely without a recognised striker, underlining their enduring commitment to the high-tempo passing game that has served them so well. Once again Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta were pivotal, with the latter's attacking wiles helping him claim the player of the tournament prize. Here he discusses why he will never tire of winning.

Uniting the Barcelona and Real Madrid contingents... 
The atmosphere in the squad wasn't initially the best but that was where the coach and team leaders came in; their part in resolving the tension was exceptionally important. We all came to realise that we were there to achieve the same goal, we were team-mates and situations beyond the national-team setup shouldn't be allowed to damage the Spain team.

Silencing the critics...
There was criticism from some quarters about our style, but we were always convinced we were doing things well. All teams go through hard times and Spain are no exception. We would love to win every game 3-0, but we too suffer at times. We endured difficult moments but overcame them and went on to win the trophy. We have a particular way of thinking and doing things and it is not for us players to say whether the style is beautiful or ugly – just so long as it's effective.

Highlights of Spain's EURO 2012 triumph
Highlights of Spain's EURO 2012 triumph

A happy ending...
The final against Italy was the best way to end the tournament; it was our most complete game at the finals. We managed to move the ball around excellently. We were very effective and aggressive in attack. And we did it against an Italy side who had enjoyed a fantastic tournament. Maybe we needed a game like the final to leave a good taste in our mouths. It wasn't easy at all against Italy even if at times it may have seemed so.

Personal fulfilment...
My goal has never been to be the 'ultimate' one, so to speak. I play football because it makes me happy; I love the sport and don't play to win individual awards. If at the end of the day people value my work, then great. I felt that I was a better player by the end of the tournament to when we started. I believe in myself more. I left the finals feeling happier than I have ever felt; it is a magical sensation.

Creating history together...
This is a marvellous era for Spanish football and we have to be very proud of our achievements. For so long we suffered trying to force our way in among the big boys. We finally made it through a huge collective effort. We knew exactly what we wanted and we happened upon the right road to get it.