It’s not often you rip up your betting slip with a big grin on your face but that was me after the Euro 2008 final.
I have to say I was rolling out the clichés just ahead of Lawro and if someone in your immediate vicinity didn’t say "football is the winner" after Spain's 1-0 win over Germany, then I can only think you were trapped in a Women's Institute wine and cheese evening.
Never has a winning team in a big football tournament received a standing ovation from the regulars at the Blue Bell but on Sunday night, those that could, stood in praise of Spanish splendour.
(And that included some of them ignoramuses who were so narked that England failed to qualify they kept singing "This means nothing to me! Ooooooooooooooo Vienn-ahhhhhh!" )
Germany started the final like a lion and went out like a Lahm.
Lahm defended more like a naive puppy dog. I swear to God, if you pretended to throw a stick for him at 0930 he’d still be running after it at 1240.
Torres alone up front looked twice the player without old stiletto sideburns Villa in attendance.
The Lone Ranger with his trusty Silva in support and the German defence going completely Tonto every time the ball came near him.
I think Ferny had had his fringe done specially for the final too, hadn’t he?
He was running his fingers through his hair so often I swear I saw Metzelder say to Mertesacker that "he’s wearing Harmony".
Any road, he looked like he was going to roast them alive every time he got the ball, and the finish for the goal was very pretty indeed.
Bar a couple more goals to seal it, it was the perfect end to a really enjoyable tournament.
There’s been miles more highs than Lows and it’s worth looking back on three of the fastest-flowing three weeks in football history to remind ourselves of the best and worst bits.
If you’re a lazy two-bit hack you might reduce this sort of thing to an A-Z of Euro 08.
So here goes:
A is for the less than loveable Luis Arrogances, who lumbered along the touchline like some wily old silverback gorilla – and made ludicrous substitutions (particularly of Torres) that always came off.
And he left behind the Castillian demigod Raul, and had a much better team for it.
For all the swagger and charm of the youngblood coaches there – Van Basten, Low and especially Bilic who must be looking forward to an enormous salary somewhere posh dead soon – it was good to see an old duffer put one over the lot of them. And without resorting to the Rehagel reverse gears, too.
B is for Ballack – is it me, or if you spray-painted him green and put a sumo suit on him would he not be the spit of TV’s Incredible Hunk?
He was the sole reason the Germans got as far as they did, and Chelsea will not be missing Lampard when he hooks up with his old pal at Inter.
C is for Casillas and Cech – the keepers of the tournament. Iker for his penalty saves and his captaincy and Peter for his dolly drop that let the Turks equalize. My mate said that must have been a real kick in the teeth for Cech. We had to remind him that Hunt and Ben Haim got there first.
D is for diving – which was relatively absent I thought. The lowpoint was Di Natale squirming away against Spain. You could call it Tactical Writhing.
If it’s true that there is an unspoken respect for this kind of thing in Italian football then I suggest they sit the next Euros out while the rest of us get on with playing properly.
E is for England – you went three weeks thinking that there was no English influence in the whole championship and then the Spanish players do the crappest conga in the history of football and you think "that’s what we do when we’re in Spain".
F is for Fatih – you will not see a better bit of face-pulling if you watch the whole of Jim Carrey’s back catalogue. Terim the Terrible was top-notch entertainment and his team matched and even surpassed his gurns and grimaces at times. The Three Stooges head slapping was simply magnificent.
G is for… sorry, nodded off there, possibly cos G is for Greece. What do they say? Beware of Greeks sharing thrift? I checked the record books and it’s true, this tedious lot did win it in 2004. Were they grim or what?
H is for Howard, as in Webb. "Go out and put a stop to all the penalty box argy-bargy," say Uefa to their officials. Webb gives a perfectly legitimate pen, and livens up the direst game of the tournament!
Reward – you can ref a meaningless game and then pack your bags, we don’t need that sort of behaviour thank you.
I is for Iniesta, one of my favourite players and always identifiable cos the man is so pale that he makes Mikael Forssell look like he’s positively Puerto Rican.
J is for Jake Humphrey who had the hardest job in the country for the last three weeks – possibly apart from being Gordon Brown’s spin doctor.
He stood, fresh-faced and keen, usually in the teeth of a torrential thunderstorm, and then tried to get summat understandable out of some drunken pillock who’d been watching the match on a dead big telly.
K is for Kick Racism Out Of Football – I whole-heartedly agree but this is one of them soggy liberal gestures from Uefa – and, as Greeny said on 5 Live, when you’ve got the captains of Spain and Russia reading out statements of racial harmony and you look at how black English players have been treated by some of their fans, you do think, "hang on, if you MEANT all this, these teams wouldn’t be here cos they’d’ve had points docked, or summat effective like that!!!"
L is for Luca, as in the Suzanne Vega song:
"My name is Luca
I just missed the chance before
And during the games we’ve played
I’ve missed about sixty four."
M is for Mario Gomes. Remember him? I’ve forgotten him already meself.
Oh and it’s for Motty, who left us with a couple of classics to cherish. First of all, who’d have thought there were so many different ways of pronouncing Capdevila? Second, the gloriously clumsy line that not even Peter Drury would’ve gone for... "the senors have become seniors". Ouch.
N is for Nihat, whose last-minute winner against the Czechs was just wondrous and whose injury may just have meant the difference between Germany or Turkey getting to the final.
O is for orange. The Dutch were brilliant in the group games, let us not forget. The drubbings of Italy and France were made even better by the stadiums looking like they’d been filled up with 200,000 litres of Tango.
In fact, me favourite interview of the whole 21 days was Van Nistelrooy admitting that they were as surprised as the rest of us at how good they were.
P is, and always is, for penalties. As I’ve said before, I hate them. They’ve handed a bunch of no-marks like Donadozy’s donkeys a get-out-of-jail free card, and they can spend two hours boring the continent to death before they get there.
Never has there be a crueler example than the Turkish turnaround against the Croats. What you can’t deny, though, is that it’s stomach-churningly good entertainment.
Q is for Quaresma. I’ve got nowt to say about the lad but that’s the bloody problem with these blinking alphabetical ideas… (I think one year there was an Iberian keeper called Quim – course, you couldn’t mention that.)
R is for Ronaldo who made more of an impact after his team had spent the entire game against Germany admiring how tall the Teutons were and how high they could jump. The ongoing saga is more tedious than Big Brother 78 or whatever it is. The bloke’s been well shoddy and Fergie should get shot his lah-di-dahness as soon as. End of.
S is for Senna. The missing link in Spain’s midfield. The bloke who allowed the rest to play. Like Claude Makalele minus the zimmer. In the semi-final, he rolled up Arshavin and popped him in his top pocket like he was a cigar he was going to have later.
T is for Thierry and Thuram and a Tournament Too Far. Scotland were so close to qualifying and here’s the reason why. France were crap. Worse than that, they were sulky. Domenech was so upset by the end of it, he got himself married, the pillock!
U is for uniform, as in the almost identical shirts worn by the Beeb pundits. Stubbsy, a man whose shirts must crease when he looks at them, must have been mighty jealous at the standard of ironing. I reckon Shearer, a man who once expressed a preference for creosoting fences, was the man with the Morphy Richards on this occasion.
V is for Villa – silly stiletto sideburns, crybaby whining at team-mates during the quarter-final. But, by crikey, he didn’t seem to miss, did he?
W is for Wesley Sneijder – the best player in the tournament who wasn’t playing for Spain, along with Arse-Shavin’ until he was smoked by Senna.
X is for Xavi, he should be doing passing workshops for the German back four for the rest of the summer.
Y is for Yop (all right I know it’s spelt Jop but I’m struggling here). Yop was the Pole who should have been replaced by a pole. He was the worst player in the tournament and I’ve no doubt Megson’ll be signing him for a small fee come August.
Z is for Zinedine Zidane, who turned up to remind the French, and Marco Materazzi, what they were missing.
I'd like to pick the Team of the Tournament too, but what's the point? You couldn't take one Spaniard out and replace him with owt better. The midfield were a collection of little pearls on a string weren’t they?
Senna, Silva, who reminded me of a particularly nimble squirrel, Iniesta and Xavi and I didn't even mention Cesc who’s still only 21 and talks as fluently as he plays. There were very few square balls and so many triangles me mate Tony Thompson – he’s a maths teacher – said it wasn’t so much football as trigonometry (and then he helped me spell it, too).
There’s not been a better collection of players across the middle of the park since the magic square of Fernandez, Giresse, Platini, and Tigana in 1984.
I've said it once and every one else has said it again - a victory for football.