• The stirring 116th minute goal by Andrés Iniesta that produced Spain’s first World Cup championship also produced one of the more poignant storylines of the tournament. Iniesta then pulled off his jersey to reveal a message, as many goal-scorers do. This one said: “Dani Jarque, siempre con nosotros.”
It was a salute to Iniesta’s friend, former Spanish youth star Dani Jarque, who tragically died of a heart attack last fall at the age of 26. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports writes about how Iniesta’s tribute also demonstrated the character of a humble star who reflects the best qualities of his nation:
“Spain is a beautiful country. Spain plays a beautiful game.
“And this is why it’s so easy to miss the Andres Iniestas – and Dani Jarques – that make it hum. To not realize the immense economic difficulties its people are suffering through. To forget about the construction workers and family tavern owners and working class people who made it so great for so long.
“Spain is about guts too, about tough guys living blue-collar dreams and trying to take their buddies along with them in any way they can. Even the ones who’ve passed away, even if it’s just a name scribbled on a T-shirt.
“For all the dashing glory and all the postcard towns and all the Mediterranean sunsets, it’s a country and a people that believe in hard work and an honest chance.”
• Johan Cruyff is an honorary Spaniard for the indelible imprint he left on Barcelona, Iniesta’s club team, and how the Dutch style of “Total Football” he embodied in the 1970s has been grafted into the Spanish game. So it was not surprising to read Cruyff’s scathing review of Holland’s negative fouling tactics that resulted in a total of 13 yellow cards for both teams, including an ejection for Dutch defender John Heitenga:
“And regrettably, sadly, they played very dirty. So much so that they should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two [such] ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage.
“This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style, yes it served the Dutch to unsettle Spain. If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they ended up losing. They were playing anti-football.”