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We´ve broken so many hoodoos, says Casillas

Spanish goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas basked in the glory on Monday of having won Euro 2008 and reflected on the ghosts Spain laid to rest by winning their first title for 44 years.

A first-half goal from Liverpool's Fernando Torres was enough to seal a 1-0 win over Germany in Sunday's final in Vienna to give the Spanish their first European Championship win since 1964.

On route to the final, Spain beat Italy for the first time in a competitive match in the quarter-finals and in doing so broke their June 22 curse having lost three times on penalties on that date in major tournaments.

Having so often been the brides-maid, but never been the bride, Casillas' side then swept past Russia 3-0 in the semi-finals before beating Germany in Sunday's final to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy in style.

“We've broken a lot of hoodoos – above all the quarter-final jinx,” said Real Madrid shot-stopper Casillas.

“It's not comparable to a European Cup – this is much more. This is all of Spain, all of the country.

“Real Madrid fans, Barcelona, Valencia, everyone. It's the best.”

Having become the oldest man to guide a team to European success, Spain coach Luis Aragones pieced together a glorious campaign from the wreck of a 3-2 qualifying-stage defeat by Northern Ireland in September 2006.

“Luis Aragones had to suffer a lot but at the end he's got the reward,” said Casillas, with the 69-year-old set to stand down.

“What he had to suffer was incredible.

“He was very emotional, I'd like him to stay on but I don't think he will.”

And Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso said Spain are worthy winners having won all three group games and had been the most consistent team of the tournament.

“I think we deserved to be champions, we played well all the way through,” said the 26-year-old, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.

“The key for me was the quarter-finals against Italy.

“We had a lot of pressure in that game but once we went through we had so much confidence.”

And having finally won some silverware, Alonso says the Spaniards have over-come a key mental barrier.

“This changes things. It shows you can do it. Winning a trophy gives you confidence.”

He also paid tribute to his Liverpool team-mate Torres who slipped his marker Philipp Lahm on 33 minutes to flick his shot past Germany's ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

“Fernando was fantastic,” said Alonso.

“He's a great striker.

“He's the kind of man who performs great on the big nights and what can I say about him, he's amazing.”

And having scored the crucial penalty which sealed Liverpool's fight-back from 3-0 down against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions Leage final in Istanbul, Alonso said the Euro 2008 win is special – now he wants league success.

“It's different,” he said.

“You are sharing a moment with a club and not with another group with a national team.

“Both are special.

“I was as excited to win the Champions League as I am now but this is very, very special.

“I'm absolutely delighted to win both trophies – now I would like a league somehwere.”

Mon 30 June, 2008
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