“Esto se lo debemos a los 23 jugadores. Hemos tenido 50 días sin ningún incidente, es para sentirse orgullosos de estos futbolistas. Tiene un valor incalculable para España”
The Spanish coach is Vicente Del Bosque. If, after reading this, you ever want to see what he looks like, look up the word “impassive” in the dictionary and his photo should be there. I learned a lot from the way he carried himself during the cup, and how his focus matched his priorities. When interviewed about his experience winning the World Cup, one of the first things he said (translated from above):
“We owe this to the 23 players. We had 50 days with no incidents, that’s something to be proud of these athletes for. It has an incalculable value for Spain.”
He did not talk about himself, his tactics, his psychological approach to his players, or how he devised a method to beat Holland. He didn’t talk about the fame, the money (each player got about $800k), or the giant parade when they returned to Spain. He didn’t talk about winning a certain game, a great goal they scored, or going down in history. The most important thing he could think of is that they got along as people.
What I loved the most about this team is the way they stuck together and played like a bunch of friends. And that their coach, when asked about their success, said that the best part of the fifty days is that they never had any incidents of ill will or bad behavior. He sees the little picture, that coexisting together in harmony for 50 days is neither easy nor insignificant. He knows that players who like each other will play harder. And he sees the big picture, realizing that he is a small actor on a larger stage, a citizen of his country who helped deliver something important for his nation’s standing in the world.
Then there’s this from El País, on Del Bosque during the tournament:
He’s convinced that he’s not on the bench to express his feelings, or to personally achieve, but rather to be custodian of something that transcends the football team. His relationship with uniforms gives him away. Not even when he rejoins his wife or his three sons to take a walk around on his free time, does he even remove his coach’s warm-up jacket. “I’ll take it off in Madrid.” he says. In Africa he considers himself to be of service. In Africa, he won’t leave the compound to eat, as the players just did, because the man in charge of the garrison isn’t supposed to leave the fort. “Perhaps I’ll find Spanish food better than what our cooks are making for me here?” he asks. The response is always in the negative.
Vicente Del Bosque’s approach and commitment have inspired me. I want to coach teams whose players focus on being good to each other. I want to see my role as affecting more than a tournament table. I want my football to make a statement about our role in society.
Because that’s what champions do.