Spain take a trip down memory lane in Johannesburg

Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:59pm EST
 
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Back in Johannesburg for the first time since their maiden World Cup triumph in the city, senior members of the Spain squad spoke on Sunday of their memories of 2010 and their desire to reward the South Africans for their hospitality and support.

Spain take on South Africa in a friendly on Tuesday at the same Soccer City stadium where they beat Netherlands 1-0 after extra time in the final three years ago.

Spanish federation (RFEF) president Angel Maria Villar also took the chance on Sunday to parade the World Cup trophy in nearby Potchefstroom where the squad were based.

"They are all really great memories, it seems like it was yesterday but the years are marching on," Sergio Ramos told a news conference at the Orlando stadium in Soweto.

"The South Africans gave us a lot of support and we are very fond of them," said the Real Madrid defender, adding that his most cherished memories of 2010 were Andres Iniesta's 116th-minute winning goal in the final and the referee blowing the whistle to signal Spain's victory.

"In that moment I felt very proud to be Spanish and to play for my country," he said.

"I have a replica of the World Cup and big photos in my office and every time I go home I see them.

"We didn't win some neighborhood dancing competition but a World Cup and it is something to be proud of for life."

Atletico Madrid forward David Villa, whose rich vein of scoring form helped to propel Spain to the final, said returning to South Africa was a joyous experience.   Continued...

 
Spain national player Sergio Ramos takes part in a soccer training session at Soccer City in Las Rozas, near Madrid, November 13, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera