Casillas revels in historic triumph
After lifting the Uefa Euro 2012™ trophy to make history as the skipper of the first team to win three consecutive major finals, Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas said the last four years had been a 'wonderful' journey.
The 31-year-old Real Madrid shot stopper was on hand to keep out the relatively little that Italy managed to throw at him as La Furia Roja ran out 4-0 victors for the biggest winning margin in the tournament's history, allowing Spain to become the first nation to retain the trophy.
With Sunday's win sandwiching the 2010 World Cup, Casillas was ecstatic afterwards.
"This is such a truly wonderful moment. The second goal from Jordi (Alba) clinched it really," he told Telecinco television.
"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."
There had been criticism of Spain and their coach Vicente del Bosque for playing much of the tournament without a true striker and again it fell to Cesc Fabregas to adopt the 'false nine' role in the final, until Fernando Torres came on to net the third and then set up the fourth for fellow substitute Juan Mata.
David Silva had set the ball rolling with a header from a Fabregas cross.
The absence of a striker had appeared to rob Spain not so much of their style but of their finishing substance earier in the tournament with their opening draw against the Italians and their 1-0 creep past Croatia, as well as their semifinal shootout success over Portugal.
But Del Bosque refused to listen to the critics and here Spain answered them most emphatically.
"There will always be some criticism as we have set the bar so high that that's what happens when you come down a pip," Casillas explained.
"We have been able to get the best out of our players and make full use of our characteristics. And they (the Italians) were tired," he added.
"Now we will go off and savour the win together," said Casillas, who has not conceded a goal in the knockout stages of any of the three events on a roll that the Spanish have won.