Luis Milla cited "hard work, spirit and belief" as being key to Spain's final victory against a Switzerland side whose proud coach was left to reflect on the failure to convert chances.
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Luis Milla hailed the "hard work, spirit and belief" of his Spain players who brought the country their first UEFA European Under-21 Championship title since 1998 and a third in total. The Spain coach said that his team's 2-0 victory against Switzerland in Saturday's Aarhus final was reward for the qualities they had shown throughout the last fortnight in Denmark.
Beyond the immediate disappointment of the Swiss losing in their first U21 final, the overriding emotion for coach Pierluigi Tami was one of pride in his side's achievements here in Jutland.
Luis Milla, Spain coach
Personally I am delighted. But I am especially delighted for the players who have deserved this success for their hard work, spirit and belief. I would also like to praise Switzerland for their play and behaviour on the pitch tonight.
We knew it was going to be a tough game because the Swiss are also comfortable in possession and want the ball. They had their chance with Xherdan Shaqiri in the first half but we took ours soon after and that gave us confidence. In the second half we pushed on and then controlled the match after the second goal late on.
The lads are thrilled with themselves – they understand what they have achieved here. Thiago Alcántara's goal was a surprise but you have to admire the talent and the confidence that he has and the ability that he has shown throughout the tournament. The whole team have had a great campaign – we have had regular players scoring goals, but also players coming off the bench who have been key as well. Everyone has played their part.
Also, I should mention a colleague of mine who has been a key figure in this victory – Fernando Hierro, who unfortunately is leaving his role as technical director of the federation. He has been a great professional and a great colleague. All the coaches at the federation have enjoyed working with him and this victory is for him too.
Pierluigi Tami, Switzerland coach
First of all Spain played at a high level as they always do. For 30 minutes it was quite an even game, we were having quite a lot of possession and were keeping the ball. Then we lost a bit of efficiency, we lost out in a few challenges and that made it difficult for us. Then the goal came, but up until that point neither team really had any chances.
Second half we changed things to try and hurt them, to break them down, but we had a few problems physically as a few of our lads were starting to struggle. It began to show that we had played five games in two weeks.
Overall you have to say that Spain deserved it. We had two great chances at 1-0 down from set pieces and we were showing that we could still trouble Spain. That lifted us but you have to take these opportunities and straight after them Spain went and scored a super goal which finished the game.
I am proud of our performance in this tournament, and that's the first thing I said to the players afterwards. It was very difficult to play the fifth game against a quality Spain team. Of course it is a great disappointment to lose the final, but overall we have to be proud of having done so well at a championship of this standard.