Iniesta savours 'magical' moment

Andrés Iniesta collected a third Carlsberg Man of the Match award against Italy, but of more interest to the Spain midfielder was that his side retained the trophy in Kyiv.

Iniesta savours 'magical' moment
Iniesta savours 'magical' moment ©

Andrés Iniesta's mesmeric contribution to Spain's second successive UEFA European Championship win earned him the final Carlsberg Man of the Match award – although of more significance to the midfielder was renewing his acquaintance with the Henri Delaunay Cup.

The Spain No6 made a crucial early contribution at the Olympic Stadium, his characteristic through ball played in Cesc Fàbregas to set up David Silva's 14th-minute opener. Iniesta was typically modest in victory, saying: "Today the team played a great match. All the players were at their best and we're delighted; that was essential. We moved the ball around very fast. We were aggressive in possession. We scored the first two goals, and then after that they had to play with only ten men [when Thiago Motta went off injured] which made it easier for us.

"Everybody is entitled to their opinion," continued Iniesta, who has now played pivotal roles in tournament victories at UEFA EURO 2008, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and here. "We're not here to say our football is better than anyone else's but today we were at a great level and true to our style. It's unique, magical; something that cannot be repeated."

Although Iniesta scored the extra-time winner against the Netherlands to secure the world crown two years ago, that proved an unusual contribution for a man whose regular role is to provide chances for others. "I'm delighted about everything at the moment," he added. "I don't need to score goals – it's not what football is about to me. It doesn't matter who scores so long as we do."

As he collected his award from Davor Šuker and Christian Karembeu – who described Iniesta as "one of the best players; with his passing he is always a danger, he plays so well in small spaces and succeeds with everything he touches" – Iniesta was keen to share the credit. "It's very nice to have this award but it's especially great to be champions again," he said. "I'll do my bit and as long as people enjoy that, it's great.

"Football is my life. My life would mean nothing without it. I've enjoyed it since I was a small boy. Yet I never I imagined I'd be here to win my second EURO. It's magic, something very special, and we have to enjoy the moment."

Spain had endured a 44-year trophy drought before their 2008 triumph, and a third successive tournament victory left Iniesta in reflective mood. "We had always fought for it, we had always fought to change history," he explained. "The team we have had during this time has been fantastic. It seemed impossible to achieve something like this. It has never been achieved by anybody before, so we are extremely happy.

"Winning the tournament is a great memory for everybody. We had great memories of Austria and we'll take away great memories from Poland and Ukraine. This a great era for Spanish football and we must be proud of it: players and fans should enjoy it."