You can lose everything, except the style. It was a day when we were to lose against Chile, our elimination from the World Cup would be sealed and our greatest failure in the tournament complete. But, strangely, I enjoyed it a lot.
Well, until the kick-off anyway. Possibly these disappointments are not so hard to bear when you are lucky enough to be here, immersed in the tournament and imbued with all this partying.
That’s the magic of the World Cup. But despite the great day, the fantastic time I’ve had here as the Sony Fan Ambassador for the world champions (yes, we’re still world champions!) the taste of defeat is bitter and hard to digest.
It had to happen again at the Maracana, where just a year ago we began to suspect that something was wrong. Vicente del Bosque had hinted a few days ago when he said, rather cryptically: “The eyes of the players are not the same as before.”
Xabi Alonso decided to be more concise after the match. “Probably our success rate is exhausted,” he said. As such, I suppose some of the great but ageing players should have made a graceful exit before travelling to Brazil, but no one did. Now we have no choice but to wish them farewell.
Another question is whether to change the style of play. Two of our Team Ambassadors at this World Cup, Gaizka Mendieta and Alessandro Nesta, both suggested that the team needed more intensity, even saying their appetite for success may have been sated.
To me it would seem unfair but if it happens, I think I will live trapped in the past six years. Not so much for the results but for the way we astonished the world with our style.
I never saw a player publicly thank another wonderful football team, as the great Colombian striker Falcao did on his Twitter account after the game. “My respect and thanks to Spain for their marvellous football over the past six years,” he said. That awe is not achieved by winning, but by the way you do it.
The only regret about this defeat is that we felt the temptation to abandon that which has given us so much.
Here’s my video of the build-up to the match, when I was lucky enough to speak to Del Bosque and our goalkeeper, Iker Casillas. It’s in Spanish, but I think you’ll enjoy the scenes …