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Tyler's Diary - Part 7

Spain's reign proves small can be beautiful

Features - Martin Tyler Posted 1st July 2008 view comments

The final was of course a slightly more advanced production for the Australian network I have been working for, which meant a comm-cam which meant I could talk directly to the studio.

It also meant a lot longer in my seat than usual but with the team news - the Michael Ballack situation and who would play instead of David Villa - there was of course plenty to talk about.

Ned Zelic, who has played in Germany with Borussia Dortmund was also drafted in to do analysis and something he said certainly rang true when the game began - that he couldn't remember one team being so dominant throughout a final.

Spain: small and beautiful

Spain: small and beautiful

Yes Brazil have won World Cups when they have clearly been the best team, but they always seemed to stumble at one stage or another. But this Spanish side were rarely in trouble throughout these finals and in truth that rang true in Vienna on Sunday night.

On the Friday I had interviewed two greats of the German and Spanish games at an adidas sponsors' do. It meant the great honour of chatting with Franz Beckenbauer, who is such a gracious guy and thankfully, extremely fluent in English. He was in jocular mood and his tongue was firmly in his cheek when he said it would go to penalties and Germany would win!

What I really liked about Spain's success was that it proved that football is still the democratic game for all shapes and sizes it should be. In recent times there has been a tendency to lean towards big, athletic players but to see the Spanish team celebrating, being dwarfed even by the photographers, proved the beautiful game is not all about big muscles.

Martin Tyler
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Spain was represented by Fernando Hierro, who works for the Spanish FA now and reluctantly he spoke to me in English - although I tried to squeeze as many Bolton Wanderers references in, just to make him feel comfortable. He was confident and rightly pointed out what a fantastic opportunity it was for his country to exorcise some demons of the past.

And how they did it. I do think you can call it a 1-0 drubbing because having dominated all the way to the final, they did so again. The scoreline really did flatter the Germans and other than that early chance for Miroslav Klose, their frontmen barely got a kick.

In contrast, Fernando Torres produced his best display of the tournament and of course scored what turned out to be the winner. He has now scored winning goals in Uefa finals at three different levels - Under 16, Under 19 and now senior - all of them 1-0, which is some record really.

But what I really liked about Spain's success was that it proved that football is still the democratic game for all shapes and sizes it should be. In recent times there has been a tendency to lean towards big, athletic players but to see the Spanish team celebrating, being dwarfed even by the photographers, proved the beautiful game is not all about big muscles, like American sport.

Diego Maradona was one of the greatest we have seen and he was on the small side and the likes of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva showed that all shapes and sizes can succeed in football. That was always the game's universal appeal.

This group of Spanish players also showed that talk of the so-called divisions in their ranks, due to political and footballing history, was just that, talk. These players came together, be they from Barcelona or Real Madrid, to represent Spain and enjoy themselves.

As a commentator the one downside to major finals can be the the length of the presentations, but at least this time we got our proper trophy lift for everyone to see. I am sure Motty made the point in the commentary you saw back here, and while on the subject I have to say I sent him a text wishing him all the best for his last game. He has been a friend and rival for so many years and I will never forget the good luck message he sent me before my first game in 1974 - although back then it wasn't a text, more like semaphore.

Another elder statesman left smiling was of course Luis Aragones. I actually got to meet him after the final thanks to an old friend Borja Bilbao (yes, he's from Bilbao), who had actually been my driver at the 1982 World Cup.

He has clearly worked his way rapidly up the Uefa ranks and was actually their media officer here, so while I was just expecting a congratulatory handshake from Aragones, Borja insisted we had a chat. I told him that I was old enough to remember the 1974 European Cup final when he had actually put Athletico Madrid ahead only for Bayern Munich - and Beckenbauer - to level and win the replay.

Another German fightback was not so likely this time, but we had a chuckle and it was a nice way to end a wonderful tournament.

As for the future I do not like the idea of the Euros going up to 24 teams because with an elite of 16 anyone can win. Yes Spain dominated, but they dominated a very open field and I do hope it is kept that way. Michel Platini is very much for open government I know, but this hasn't been put forward officially yet because there are still doubts about Poland and Ukraine's ability to host the championships.

I am also sure that England will be there. People continually asked me what would've happened had they been there this time but there was just no point speculating; all we can point to is Croatia were the unluckiest of the quarter-finalists and Russia were semi-finalists.

But it is clear that Spain have set the standard for Fabio Capello and his men -and they have set it high.

Comments (1)

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Luke Pritchard says...

I agree, most of the game has become dependent on tall, toned athletes and to see a 'dwarf' Spanish side winning the Euro against a Germen team who are known for their strength and the goal itself when Torres somehow shrugged of Lahm just shows that players dont have to be tall figures with guns like Nadal!

Posted 22:33 1st July 2008

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