Had I been born and bred in Spain, I couldn’t be happier for this team than I am tonight. Knowing how much it means to someone so important to me, seeing players I love week in and week out at Liverpool triumph, it’s quite a heady mix. Ok, so I was watching with one eye half closed and the volume low to appease my aching head, but when ‘Nando scored what turned out to be the winner, I couldn’t help but scream (apologies to the neighbours, they won’t know what’s hit them once the season starts).
This Euro 2008 malarkey has restored my faith in football. Much has been made of the rebirth of attacking football, the Spanish and the Dutch in particular showing us what we miss when we watch the hoof, hit, then smother approach of teams like Chelsea. The drama of Turkey’s progress and last-gasp winners, almost doing the same to the Germans; the renaissance of teams like Russia who everyone wrote off after their first 90 minutes. Watching British broadcasting without cringing through the pathetic excuses made for the Home Nations – though special mention to ITV’s Clive Tyldesley for mentioning Man U and Cristiano Ronaldo approximately once every ten minutes, whether Portugal were playing or not.
Motty has retired from tournament commentary! I suppose with the Beeb losing pretty much all their football coverage, it was inevitable. I’ll miss his bumbling, stat-filled style – enough pointless asides to pass even the most boring of 0-0 draws. He made a couple of relevant points tonight as well, firstly: ha! Michael Ballack! worra final jinx; and also that this age of globalised football with overpriced foreign imports has its benefits for these tournaments. You’re rooting on your club players out of habit, but leaving aside most of the nasty baggage that has started countless pub fights. London will quieten slightly, no more enclaves coming alive in a sea of flags and beeping horns to let you know who’s playing tonight and who’s won. We’ll fill the gap with a thousand other events, from Canada Day to Pride, I’m sure.
I’ve surprised myself by enjoying this tournament, watching much more of it than I thought I would. Though if the universe had a conscience, I could have spent this evening with my dearest Spanish bud, a couple of bottles of Rioja and a giant television. It was okay as it was, but there are times that you really hate life for getting in the way.
I’ll leave you with this thought, courtesy of Nike:
Su brazalete demostró que era un rojo, Torres, Torres,
Nunca caminarás solo dice, Torres, Torres,
Compramos al chico en la España
Él coge el balón, marca otra vez
Fernando Torres, el número 9 del Liverpool…!!
Foto: © Prisacom S.A. – Ribera del Sena, S/N
Sergio Ramos wraps himself in his Andalucian roots and pays tribute to the late Antonio Puerta. (WP is mucking up my captions, soz)