CAIRO: As winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Spanish national team now carries the burden of living up to the hype in every single game they will play in the future, as the legendary Michael Jordan once put it when his Chicago Bulls won their fifth championship.
The Spaniards have been crowned the world champions for the first time in their history, but was Spain’s performance anything other than mediocre?
The Spanish Conquistadors enjoyed one privilege above the remaining 31 participating teams in the 2010 FIFA World Cup: teamwork. In professional sports, teamwork is so underrated that analysts and critics sometimes fail to fully address this crucial point.
Despite marquee names shining under the 23-man Spanish roster such as Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres, David Villa, Cesc Fabregas, Carlos Puyol, each of them was able to overcome their ego and play together like a team. And to win championships, as Edson Arantes also known as Pele put it, “playing as a collective group always puts you over the top.”
And that’s exactly what Spain’s head coach, Vicente Del Bosque, emphasized after winning the world cup.
“We owe this to the 23 players. We’ve had 50 days without any personal clashes and incidents; it makes you proud to be with these players,” he said.
“We have hugely talented players on this team. This success, being world champions, is a success for all of us,” Del Bosque went on to say.
The Spanish have also taught lessons to other world-class players participating in the tournament. The most notable of these names is the most expensive player in the foot-balling world today, Cristiano Ronaldo.
As soon as the game ended in the round of 16, when Spain defeated Portgual to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals against Chile, 24-year-old Ronaldo made a gesture that defies the spirit that the Spanish team embraced.
The Real Madrid winger spit at the camera, clearly indicating a lack of team spirit and the kind of superstar ego he harbors. The Spanish, by winning the world cup, have taught him that “teamwork” always outweighs “stardom”.
Longtime Egyptian sports critic, Hassan El Mestekawy, who writes for Al-Shorouk newspaper wrote: “The Spanish were spectacular. Not spectacular individually, but spectacular as a group. And that’s how they got to touch that golden trophy in the end.”
“They (Spanish) had seven players from FC Barcelona, and a couple from their rivals Real Madrid. But they were able to work it out together,” El Mestekawy said.
When world-class players whose names are cheered by millions of fans around the globe each time they set foot on the pitch, forfeit the fame for the sake of the team, the result is nothing short of glory.
To the world, the Spanish national football team have illustrated that championships are not won by showmanship and name recognition alone, but rather by intensity, unity and precision.
They haven’t been innovators in these world cup finals, nor were they performing particularly well, but they have shown the world that unity is the ultimate immunity.