Press rejoices after La Roja make it a hat-trick
THEY entered the realm of legends and restored pride to a nation in crisis: the Spanish press yesterday lavished praise on their team's history-making victory in the Euro 2012 final.
"Spain and no-one else," cried the front page of the biggest-selling sports daily Marca, above a photo of the cheering team with captain Iker Casillas holding the trophy aloft after a 4-0 destruction of Italy.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," said its online edition.
Papers brimmed with pride over Spain taking a third straight international title, after winning the Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010 - a feat never before accomplished.
"The Spanish team scored with ease over Italy in the Euro final and left the footballing continent at its feet, completing an historic triple," La Marca glowed.
Conservative daily El Mundo's home page declared the team "Champions of Legend".
Leading daily El Pais said the win would be remembered in history.
"This is not just the best generation of Spanish footballers but probably the best in Europe in the history of competitive football," El Pais said in an editorial.
To add to their accolades, striker Fernando Torres won the Golden Boot award for the tournament's top scorer - edging out Germany's Mario Gomez.
The 28-year-old - whose goal in the 4-0 win over Italy in the final made him the only player to score in two Euro finals - like Gomez scored three goals and provided one assist during the tournament.
However, Uefa gave it to Torres on the tiebreak of having had less game time during the finals, the Spaniard having had 189 minutes on the pitch compared to Gomez's 280.
Four other players also ended up with three goals each, Italian striker Mario Balotelli, Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo, Russian star Alan Dzagoev and one of the revelations of the tournament, Croatia's Mario Mandzukic.