Euro 2012: 'Great Spain era', says coach Vicente Del Bosque
Coach Vicente del Bosque has hailed Spain's "great generation of footballers" after their historic win over Italy in the final of Euro 2012.
La Roja's 4-0 victory in Kiev made them the first team to win three successive major international tournaments.
"We're talking about a great generation of footballers," said Del Bosque.
"They know how to play together because they come from a country where they learn to play properly. This is a great era for Spanish football."
Del Bosque the man, the manager
- Vicente del Bosque was born two days before Christmas 1950.
- His hometown is Salamanca in western Spain.
- Played as a midfielder for Real Madrid for 14 years, winning five league titles and four cups.
- Represented Spain 18 times between 1975-80.
- Had three spells in charge of Real, winning the league and the Champions League twice.
- Del Bosque has managed the national side since July 2008.
- He is only the second coach to win a European Championship and a World Cup, joining Helmut Schoen of West Germany.
The 61-year-old added: "We have some great lads who play abroad, which was impossible before. We didn't really have players abroad and now foreign clubs want our players.
"To win three titles is almost impossible. Congratulations to the players.
"It's true we were lucky enough to play a great match. Everything worked for us. It was an extraordinary performance against a difficult opponent.
"We played our own game. There were no real external influences - we were faithful to what we've done in recent years.
"I didn't really want to be the coach who wins but the coach who educates. I want to keep preparing them for the future."
Spain were at their scintillating best as goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres - who became the first player to score in two Euros finals - and Juan Mata helped them overpower the Italians by the biggest winning margin in a Euros final. They also retained the crown they first won in Vienna four years ago.
Between these two, La Roja have also claimed their first World title in South Africa and have now constructed a compelling case to be classed as the best team in history.
Sunday's victory was also the perfect riposte to the critics who have suggested that Spain have abandoned attacking principles and are not entertaining to watch.
Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas told BBC Sport: "It feels really, really amazing. It's one of the best days of my life.
"I don't think we realise what we've done. In time we'll see. Are we boring? People who think we are boring, I don't think they understand the game."
Spain captain Iker Casillas, for whom Sunday's win was his 100th from 137 caps said: "There will always be some criticism as we have set the bar so high. That's what happens when you come down a step. It's been four marvellous years.
"You might think that a 4-0 margin against Italy means it was easy - but we have been gradually stepping up as the tournament went along.
"We've seen a masterclass. Spain have been the best team in the world for the last four or five years. Italy gave a lot of effort, but unfortunately they'd played too many hard games. They felt the pace and Spain, with that superior technique and movement and talent on the ball have run out easy winners. The Spanish have been criticised but they are the best team in the world."
"We did a really good job in defence, but not only defence. We know we have a lot of quality up front. If you can have a clean sheet then it's easier to score.
"It was really important for Fernando [Torres]. I know he hasn't had his best season. He had some problems and then didn't play for Chelsea. He scored against Ireland and then he scored again in the final.
"Are we the best ever? I don't know. I think we have to keep winning and win more trophies. When we're retired in 10 or 15 years then maybe we can look back and say we were really good."
Andres Iniesta was named man of the match and is one of four players - along with Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xavi - to have started all three final triumphs.
"It's very nice to have this man-of-the-match trophy but it's especially great to be champions again," the Barcelona midfielder said.
"The team played a great match and all the players were at their top level."
Centre-back Gerard Pique added: "It's a really special feeling. I think we have to enjoy this moment. This team is making history but we have to keep going and keep working hard.
"There is a World Cup in two years. We're going to enjoy this moment and then keep going."