Zapatero highlights Spain’s Euro success in a democracy

June 30th, 2008 - 8:00 am ICT by IANS  

Vienna, June 30 (DPA) Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero highlighted Sunday the national football team’s first success as a democracy and asked the players to go for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa next. “It is a privilege, I believe I am the first prime minister under a democracy to witness a success,” Zapatero said in Vienna, after watching Spain’s 1-0 victory over Germany in the final at the Ernst Happel stadium.

Spain’s only previous major title came in 1964, when the country also won the European Championships. The final of that tournament, in Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, featured the presence at the stands of dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1939 until his death 36 years later.

“My generation had the right to see the national football team winning a championship,” Zapatero added.

The Spanish prime minister allowed himself to dream on.

“The best is yet to come. We now have to go for the World Cup,” he said.

Zapatero celebrated with the players in the changing room and stressed the atmosphere within the group.

“I am really happy. The changing room was incredible,” he said. “They are happy, affectionate, cheerful and shouting for Spain, as one would expect.”

Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who also witnessed the match in Vienna Sunday night, was thrilled over his country’s triumph at Euro 2008 after more than four decades.

“We have suffered, but it was worth it in the end,” the king said.

“This is a moment for all of us Spaniards to rejoice because this is a triumph for all,” Spain’s head of state said.

King Juan Carlos set aside protocol when he jumped in the air to celebrate the goal scored by Torres.

“Congratulations to all Spaniards. It is a moment to celebrate a magnificent triumph,” he said.

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