PRIZE GUY ... Cesc Fabregas celebrates Euro triumph
CESC FABREGAS has revealed the recipe that turned Spain into the greatest team in history.
Take a dollop of hunger, stir in some hard work and cook in the low heat of humility.
But the key ingredient is that — for all the glory, money, fame and adulation by millions in their homeland and across the planet — this Spain team are just a bunch of normal lads.
The achievement is enormous in becoming the first side to win three straight international tournaments.
And speaking in the bowels of Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, Fabregas gave an insight into exactly how Spain’s system works. It favours and promotes thinking individuals rather than just robots.
It teaches them to think on their feet — both on and off the pitch. That is why they believe in themselves and that is why they win.
Fabregas spoke with a clarity and calmness that, quite frankly, belied the occasion as he hailed the Spain set-up, mentality and philosophy in retaining their European crown with Sunday’s 4-0 win over Italy.
Fabregas said: “This group is more than just a team. We are friends. We like to play cards, to be together. It is something else.
“It is not a football team — it is more than that.
“It’s difficult to say how we retain the hunger.
“We are just so normal, we are normal people. We hang out, we play table tennis.
“We go to the cinema together, all the families are together when they come in tournaments. It’s a really, really nice atmosphere.
“It looks like some people are going but the new generation are exactly the same as us.
“They are humble, they really want to work hard, they believe in our project and we are very proud of ourselves.”
Fabregas was visibly stunned to hear his former manager Arsene Wenger’s rather unfortunate comments about Spain.
The Frenchman accused Spain of betraying their philosophy and becoming defensive.
Wenger’s blast came just hours before Vicente del Bosque’s men delivered the finest performance ever seen in a major final as they blew Italy away.
It was not exactly a masterclass in timing from Wenger but Fabregas remained loyal to his “second dad”, without mincing his words.
He said: “I don’t think this comes from Arsene.
“Everyone sees it the way they want to but I think we played a fantastic game in the final.
“We have been showing for years that we have a style of play. We don’t pretend everybody likes it.
“Obviously we believe in what we do and it proves us right. We have players to play this way.
“We can’t play long balls because Andres Iniesta is not strong, I am not strong, David Silva is not strong, Xavi is not strong.
“We have to play combinations and this is the way we like to play, the way we enjoy.
“We are proud of this, not just that we won the treble but the way we did it.”
Fabregas is just 25 and players such as Jordi Alba, 23, Gerard Pique 25, Sergio Busquets, 23, Sergio Ramos, 26, Iniesta, 28, and Silva, 26, have yet to even peak.
The best is yet to come from them — a scary prospect for the rest of the world.
Fabregas added: “Most of us are 23 and 25. It’s a really good age to perform at the top level.
“We were lucky to live a lot of good experiences when we were young at just 21.
“Hopefully that — and the success we are having now at 23 and 25 — will mean we are stronger for those experiences when we’re 27 and 29.”
Next up is the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
Spain can now become the first European team to win the trophy in South America.
Fabregas joked: “We will try to do it — but let me enjoy this first.
“One hundred per cent our aim is to continue winning.
“The age says that we can keep going for many years but, at the same time, we will see how we arrive in Brazil.
“We have got the Confederations Cup, then the World Cup.
“It’s really tough but we will try our best.
“We will try to carry on winning.
“Everyone thought we would be finished after the World Cup because we had won the Euros and the World Cup.
“They thought we might ease off a bit but here we are again, European champions again — and we made the treble.
“No one has done it in the history of football and we are very proud of it.”
Then, in a thinly disguised barb aimed at all of those idiotic Spain-bashers, ex-Arsenal skipper Fabregas saved the best for last.
He said: “Yes, definitely winning by playing how we love to play makes it even sweeter.
“You may think we’re boring but I don’t think so. We just believe in our way.”
The results, the trophies and the history are there for all to see.
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|