No Hay Dos Sin Tres: Spain Takes the Triple Crown
Five days ago, my favorite team in the world, Spain’s national soccer team, captured their third major title in a row when they beat Italy and became 2012 UEFA Euro champions. Clad from head to toe in red and yellow, my mom and I made our way to a Spanish bar in Pasadena, California, where, surrounded by fellow Spain enthusiasts, we spent two hours glued to the big screens, watching La Roja score beautiful goal after goal, ending the game with a mindblowing 4-0 victory. Amazing.
I was fortunate enough to watch Spain’s other Euro 2012 games from a big screen backdropped by a picturesque lake and castle in Budapest, sports bars in my Washington D.C. and my hometown of Pasadena, and, most excitingly, Sevilla. In Sevilla, my friend Jimmy and I joined thousands and thousands of fanatic Spaniards in Plaza de la Encarnación under Las Setas (a modern structure nicknamed for its mushroom-like appearance) as we watched Spain own Ireland 4-0, the crowd exploding after every goal, setting off fireworks, and chanting non-stop.
As I walked to Encarnación, at least 4 Spaniards jovially stopped me to express their support for La Roja, compliment my fan attire, and discuss the impending results of the match. Bonding with strangers over the topic, I was overwhelmed by just how much the sport, and, specifically major international tournaments like the World Cup and UEFA Euro, really bring the country together.
Here in the U.S., sure, we definitely have sports fanatics, but, really, I don’t know if any American fanaticism comes anywhere close to how Spaniards feel about fútbol. Think of the national pride we Americans experience only during the Olympics, really, and multiple that by ten. It’s phenomenal.
Sadly, my travel around Central Europe followed by my return to California meant I was only able to watch one game from Spain, but it was a remarkable experience. In 2006, I watched from Granada as Italy became World Cup champions, in 2008, I saw Spain win the UEFA Euro from Switzerland, and in 2010 I watched the early World Cup games in Spain and the championship game in a rowdy bar in Las Vegas. I would honestly count these four experiences as four of the greatest of my life. Although football fever may be dwindling down, I’ll be chronicling them in upcoming blog posts.
One word of advice: if you ever get to watch the World Cup or UEFA Euro from Europe or another area that lives and breathes soccer just as much, whatever you can, do it. There’s truly nothing like it.