Dutch Stonewalled

Give that goalie a statue: Spain keeper Iker Casillas the true hero of the South Africa World Cup

Give that goalie a statue: Spain keeper Iker Casillas the true hero of the South Africa World Cup

Spain’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the World Cup final left me so drained that I don’t have much to say. Because of its sheer level of skill, Spain can sometimes make the game look easy, as they did against Germany.

But not today. The Dutch were a hard-nosed opponent who outplayed the Spanish for long stretches, and easily could have won.

Holland’s star forward, Arjen Robben, looked like Mercury himself as he blazed along the sidelines in his bright green shoes (at least, they looked green on the giant screen the Dynamo set up at Discovery Green), but twice he was thwarted on point-blank shots by the Spanish goalie Iker Casillas, who deserves to have a statute of himself erected in Madrid.

Spain didn’t have many chances as tantalizing as Robbens’, and when the 0-0 match went into overtime, many assumed it would come down to penalty kicks. Then Andres Iniesta struck just before the end, when he took a Cesc Fabregas pass in the box and punched it just beyond the reach of both a defender and the goalie.

The Spanish reaction to the goal, which came in the 116th minute, only four minutes before the match would’ve gone to the dreaded penalty kicks, was very moving. Casillas, for me the Man of the Match, was weeping, rather than simply crying, tears of joy and relief. If the Netherlands had managed to kick one at him, I don’t think he would’ve been able to see it.

Despite the heat, there was a pro-Spain crowd of around two thousand at Discovery Green, watching the Spanish-language Univision broadcast, as their team of choice won its first World Cup ever.  The crowd erupted when Spain scored.

Viva España. Now it’s on to Brazil’s World Cup of 2014, with the European Championships of 2012 serving to tide us over. The withdrawal symptoms will be severe.

Iker Casillas
Iker Casillas turned out to be the most important player in the 2010 World Cup.
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With South Africa's World Cup finished, it's time to look ahead to Brazil in 2014.