Spain's Xabi Alonso celebrates after scoring a goal against France during their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match at Donbass Arena in Donetsk. Reuters/Michael Buholzer
Spain’s run to the Euro 2012 final has been an “oasis” for people back home who are suffering because of the financial crisis, according to captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
The holders clinched a place in Sunday’s title decider against Germany or Italy in part thanks to a Casillas save in the 4-2 penalty shootout win over Portugal on Wednesday and he said Spaniards should enjoy the moment while it lasts.
“It’s strange what happens in life sometimes,” the 31-year-old known as “Saint Iker” told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.
“However badly things are going for the country in terms of the crisis and all that, football has been a kind of oasis that has allowed people to forget everything a little bit,” he added.
Spain has suffered from soaring borrowing costs amidst a debt crisis and economic downturn that has hit much of Europe.
“Football has been a source of joy and we are happy and excited about that and we want people to make the most of it as it will be difficult to repeat,” added Casillas.
By seeing off the Portuguese, Spain join the West Germany team of the 1970s as the only sides to reach three successive finals at European championships and world cups.
They can eclipse the Germans -—who won the 1972 European Championship and 1974 World Cup but lost the 1976 Euro final to Czechoslovakia — with victory in Kiev. They would then become the first nation to win back-to-back continental titles with a World Cup in between.
“These have been four exceptional years and the kids back home don’t realise how lucky they are to be able to experience this,” he said.