Spain's Euro motto: Embrace humility, forget past
Spain's motto for winning a second straight European title: Embrace the values that brought a championship, and forget past glory.
Spain is training in the northern tip of Poland in the sleepy village of Gniewino, surrounded by greenery and far from any distractions. Yet it's impossible to escape the slogans scattered around the World Cup champions' training facilities. Splashed over walls and hanging from lampposts, they reflect the team's humble persona. The messages reinforce the notion that Spain's successes mean nothing going into Euro 2012.
''History doesn't make you champion, humility does'' reads one banner, before giving way to the next just a few feet along. ''History doesn't stop the rival, concentration does'' is enshrined alongside ''History doesn't score goals, talent does.''
Finally, ''United by a dream'' adorns each lamp post leading to the Mistral Sport Hotel field where the squad trains twice a day in front of several hundred spectators, including a boisterous bunch of Spanish fans that assistant coaches have had to quiet down on occasions.
''We're conscious of the fact that it was inevitable on paper we'd be favorites,'' defender Sergio Ramos ''The key to our success has been to always start from zero and respect our opponents. Humility has been the base from which we have grown in these recent years.''
Spain starts in Group C on Sunday against Italy, winners of the 2006 World Cup. Ireland and Croatia also await in group play.
The Spaniards feature Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, who have quietly won every possible trophy available at a senior level. Iniesta scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, and celebrated by revealing a memorial message on his undershirt to former Espanyol player Daniel Jarque, who died from cardiac arrest the previous summer.
Spain's players seem to be embracing the pressure that comes with the expectations.
''I always look to provide support whether playing or not because we're all united, we all know that we're a team,'' midfielder Juan Mata said Thursday. ''There's a lot of competition here but we're all in it for the same reason, to win the European Championship.''
For locals, the opportunity to have these players so close could not be passed up.
''It's an honor to have these professionals here, they are an example we can all draw off of as well,'' said Zbigniew Walczak, the mayor of Gniewino region. ''To have the World Cup champions here is a unique opportunity.''
Paul Logothetis can be reached at: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP