Spain went to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine as favourites, but not everyone was a fan.

Why don’t they shoot more often?” German World Cup-winning captain and manager Franz Beckenbauer remarked when asked about Spain.

Despite such criticism, they were more effective than ever. In the words of Zapatero: “The final of Euro 2012 was arguably the greatest moment of the team built by Aragones and Del Bosque. The team was like a clockwork mechanism.

No-one had ever won a final as convincingly as Spain did, outclassing Italy to win 4-0 and become the first international team to win three consecutive major tournaments.

Del Bosque describes his side’s performance in the final as “the best game we ever played“.

Hierro adds: “They saw themselves as winners in the Spain shirt and when they came together as full internationals, they were already used to winning.

It was a beautiful and very difficult thing that they achieved, to have such a great understanding together and that was thanks to Aragones’ gamble on so-called small players in Euro 2008.

Spain Celebrating UEFA EURO 2008 Trophy

They were all very comfortable with each other and that becomes easier when you are winning, but the fact they were so comfortable with the philosophy and style of football made them very powerful indeed.”

Capdevila sums up the feeling of the generation when he says: “What I have had the fortune to experience are stories I will tell my children and my grandchildren in years to come.

I am desperate to tell them already. I have been so lucky. I had the privilege of sharing a dressing room with some of the best players in the world.

But having made history, the dream of a fourth title in a row would soon die. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil signalled the end of the road for this all-conquering Spanish side.

Was it complacency from the players? Misplaced loyalty shown to the old guard? Or simply the end of an era for a team that had dominated world football over the previous six years?

It was probably a bit of everything.

Del Bosque wanted to gift that generation a send-off on the biggest stage.

But the beginning of the end came in the same way as had the road to all-conquering glory; with a goal of stunning brilliance.

This time it was a diving header from Robin van Persie, an incredible finish that drew the Netherlands level after Xabi Alonso had put Spain ahead in their opening game. Spain would go on to be humiliated 5-1.

Robin Van Persie’s Header Against Spain at World Cup 2014 in Brazil

The simple truth was that for the side that will be forever remembered as the very best of its generation – one that reinvented the approach to the way football should be played – the party was over. But what a party it had been.

Credit: BBC Sport

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