David Villa would likely have been lining up against Italy for Spain in the final of Euro 2012 had it not been for injury. But, here, the star striker talks Sky Sports through La Roja's phenomenal rise to prominence and assesses how Sunday night's showdown will unfold in Kiev
Last Updated: July 1, 2012 11:35pm
Watching the semi-final of Euro 2012 against Portugal was very difficult for me. The Portuguese played very well and penalties are truly agonizing to watch, especially when you know there is nothing you can do about them.
I was delighted for my team-mates to come through it and make the final and for the national team it is a very special moment. Going into Sunday's game, the team has the chance to create history by winning three major tournaments in a row.
The first major tournament win for us was very special. As a nation we had gone a long time, 44 years in fact, without success. So winning Euro 2008 was a huge moment for the players and the fans. The scenes back in Spain were jubilant and our victory in Plaza de Colon brought the country together.
Two years later, we travelled to South Africa for the World Cup and as a team we felt confident. We had a perfect record in qualifying and a full-strength side heading into the tournament. However, in our first game against Switzerland, we did not play like we had been playing. The conditions were tough and Switzerland closed us down very effectively.
"As a player, the feeling you get ahead of a major final is not something you get at any other point. You are so close to achieving what you have been striving for. But you know that it can so easily slip from your grasp"
David Villa Quotes of the week
Losing that first game was a big blow for us and some people said that our tournament was basically over. But we pulled together as players and the coaching staff instilled the confidence in us to go out in the second game and play our football.
From that point on, every player took responsibility for being at their very best in every game and with that mentality we reached the final.
It was a famous final against a great opposition (Holland). But our tactics did not change. The game was not beautiful. But we persevered with our style and Andres (Iniesta) scored the winning goal for us in extra time.
Winning the World Cup is the dream of any football fan so to actually achieve it felt very strange, a mix of relief and unbridled joy. When we saw the reaction at the victory parade with all the people in Madrid celebrating in the streets, it truly dawned on us that we had achieved something special.
I think that this tournament (Euro 2012) so far has been fantastic, lots of goals and lots of great football. Italy have played very well and their victory against Germany was a big moment in world football.
I think a lot of people expected Germany to win the tournament so it was a shock. But the Italian players deserved to win that game and the final will be very close. We will have to be at our very best on in Kiev.
In our group stage match against Italy, we saw how strong they are across their whole team and they have got even better as the tournament has gone on.
The midfield battle will be crucial in the final. Andrea Pirlo has shown what a fantastic player he is and has controlled games with his passing and vision. But we cannot just focus on one player.
The Italian strikers have also had a great tournament, Mario Balotelli's two goals in the semi-final, especially his second, were top class and they will give him confidence for the final. He has a chance at the Golden Boot, which will be the icing on the cake for any player in the tournament.
As a player, the feeling you get ahead of a major final is not something you get at any other point. You are so close to achieving what you have been striving for. But you know that it can so easily slip from your grasp.
I think the players will be nervous. But a lot of them have been in that situation before and they know what they have to do so they will guide the less experienced guys.
I am very excited that my team-mates have the chance to replicate this feeling and I will be watching the final as Spain's No.1 fan.
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