This was not what I was hoping to see.

So, World Cup blogging sort of ground to a halt. For one thing, most of the matches took place while I was at work, and while I was able to follow them, I wasn’t quite able to, say, write down all of my feelings. Though I work for a pretty tolerant place, openly avoiding work so I can document my every thought would be frowned upon.

Secondly, the USA and Portugal were expelled rather ingloriously in the Round of 16, which put a damper on things. I still followed the tournament and was invested in it (Argentina is the best side I’ve ever seen! Wait, Germany is the best side I’ve ever seen! Uruguay! Paraguay! Ahhh!!!), but I didn’t have many thoughts beyond those in the previous parenthesis.

Except one: I did not, under any circumstances, want Spain to win.

I don’t like Spain. As a supporter of Portugal, it’s sort of a given. And for what it’s worth, their previous manager was probably a crazy racist. When the last four were announced (Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Uruguay), Spain was the only one I actively didn’t want to see raise the trophy at the end.

I was at work again for this one. From what I could tell, it was a physical match, but interestingly, a wide open one. They were playing tough but loose, like a Stooges song, with plenty of chances on each side of the ball. Finally, in the 116th minute, Andres Iniesta took advantage of the Netherlands playing down a man due to a red card, and put one home.

Spain, as they should, goes crazy. It’s mayhem. With three minutes plus whatever’s added left, it’s just about a lock that Iniesta has just locked down the first World Cup Spain will ever lift. The camera cuts to the streets of Madrid, and it’s just as jubilant.

But then it cuts to goalkeeper Iker Casillas. He’s standing at the edge of the penalty area, his hands in front of his face, crying. Trying his best not to just start bawling, but he’s not doing that great a job.

It swung the entire moment for me. Right then, I wasn’t upset that Spain was about to win anymore. I would’ve rather they hadn’t, but that pure, unfiltered emotional display told me that this was not a win that anyone was about to take lightly. This meant more than the world to them, and to Casillas (who pulled out win after win for the Red Fury in the tournament).

I can’t brush off that moment. In the greatest sporting event in the world, it was a beautiful snapshot of how much it means to player and country to compete, and how amazing it must feel to win it.

My hat goes off to Spain. I’ll be rooting against them in Euro 2012, for sure, but in the meantime, congratulations.

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