Posted: 7/2/2012
Title: SPANISH CONQUISTADORS

Blog:                                                                                                                         

      500 years ago KIng Ferdinand and Queen Arabella sent Spanish ships, soldiers and sailors out to conquer the Americas. Disease, murder, mayham followed their quest for gold and silver, and the inhabitants now speak Spanish.

      Yesterday in Eastern Europe, Marquis Vincente Del Bosque and his men also found gold, but nobody died, nobody caught malaria and UEFA made sure everybody understood English. A triumph for tiki taka total football as they made history with a third victory in 4 years. Himno Nacional, 'The Royal March', has no words, but the History Boys in red and yellow spoke eloquently with their feet-Dancing Feet- and scored four in a five star performance.

      I love the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, since it is downtown like another favourite of mine, Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, and you don't have to go out of town to get there. An awesome spectacle ending with the trophy presentation, the little children of the victorious team being hugged by their dads, and a spectacular fireworks display from the roof.

      Sol Campbell was wrong. There were no rivers of blood, coffins returning home with dead fans, and overall a happy three weeks of glorious football in the 16 team tournament... the last such one before we have 24 teams in France at EURO 2016.

      We had the Age of Columbus and this was The Age of La Roja. Ten of the starting eleven play in La Liga, the exception being David Silva of Manchester City, scorer of the opening goal in the 14th minute. Boring football ??? NOT !!!.  I was pleased that Andres Iniesta won the man-of-the-match award after yet another superb peformance for club and country. Nice to see Chelsea forward Fernando Torres come on and score, and also an assist for the fourth goal. Italy had a great tournament but were outplayed after tying Spain in the group stage.

      Not only champion for both club and country but EURO 2012 Golden Boot award winner. His paymaster Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich was there to see him perform, along with Fernando's wife, and little Nora and Leo.

     The greatest national team ever?? Well, at least in the top three, alongside Hungary, The Magic Magyars of the 1950's and Brazil from late 50's all the way to the '70's. I saw them all play in their prime: on a tiny black and white TV, I watched Hungary demolish England 6-3 at Wembley in 1953 and 7-1 in the Nepstadion a year later( I still have the programmes).

       The Hungarians beat West Germany 8-3 in Basle in the first round of The World Cup in 1954, then to go 2-0 ahead against the Germans in the final in Berne, only to lose 3-2 in the rain- on the same television set. Bill Ling of England refereed both of these matches.

       In 1954 at the same World Cup I watched Brazil lose their temper and lose 4-2 in the quarter-final, only to triumphh over host Sweden 5-2 in the final in Stockholm 4 years later, defend their title in Santiago, Chile over the Czechs in 1972, get kicked all over Goodison Park in three group matches in 1966, and I was present at Estadio Azteca in 1970 to see them come back and beat Italy 4-1 in a great final.

       Let us not forget the referees and their assistants at EURO 2012. The referees committee was allowed to select the 12 best without any political consideratations and what a good job they did. We had flowing play, a minimum of cards and sportsmanship from the players. Two red cards in the opening match, another later for an Irishman.. and that was it. The referees were as fit as butcher's dogs and ran like greyhounds. Pedro Proenca of Portugal was given the honour and also did the Champions League Final.

       England went home early once again. We beat the Spanish Armada 200 years ago and still rule Gibraltar....if not the world.

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