Madrid: Spain celebrated the anniversary of its World Cup triumph on Monday, with coach Vicente del Bosque claiming the 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in last year's final had transcended sport in his country.
Andres Iniesta's extra-time winner in South Africa gave Spain its first ever World Cup and the midfielder was convinced his 116th-minute strike would find the back of the net at Soccer City.
"It was an incredible moment, it felt like the whole world stopped, like the moment was frozen in time. After controlling the ball, it sat up perfectly for me to strike and I knew it was going to go in," Iniesta said in Monday's Marca newspaper. "How did I know? I don't know how to explain it but I knew it. It had to, it was Spain's moment."
Del Bosque said the victory was important for Spain's image amid difficult times, with the jobless rate over 20 percent with bleak economic prospects through the current recession. Unemployment has more than doubled since 2007 and now stands at 35 percent for people aged 16 to 29.
"The repercussions have transcended the limits of sport. I think that has a lot to do with the players and their way of being, they are all a normal bunch," Del Bosque said. "More than money, what's more important is the image given off by a modern country that is growing. Our players offer a great portrait of our society."
The triumph was celebrated in newspapers across Spain, which is FIFA's top-ranked team and is vying to become the first nation to defend its European championship while also holding the World Cup. Euro 2012 kicks off in Poland and the Ukraine in June.