Spain's Euro motto: Embrace humility, forget past
GNIEWINO, Poland (AP) -Embrace the values that made you a champion, forget past glory. That's Spain's motto for winning a second straight European Championship.
Spain's training base in the sleepy village of Gniewino at the northern tip of Poland is surrounded by greenery and far from any off-field 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 pie personality and have a clear message for the players: past 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 up to the Mistral Sport Hotel pitch where the squad trains twice a day in front of several hundred local spectators, including a boisterous bunch of Spanish fans that assistant coaches have had to quiet down on occasions.
Spain is small in stature and big on talent, and quite happy about that.
"We're conscious of the fact that it was inevitable on paper we'd be favorites. The key to our success has been to always start from zero and respect our opponents,'' defender Sergio Ramos said in the buildup to the tournament. "Humility has been the base from which we have grown in these recent years.''
Spain's refusal to take anything for granted - despite all its success - should be clearly visible on Sunday when it starts in Group C against Italy, winners of the 2006 World Cup.
The squad is marked by the personalities of 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 to former Espanyol player Daniel Jarque - who died from cardiac arrest the previous summer - on his undershirt.
Spain's players seem to be embracing the pressure that comes with the expectations in Poland and Ukraine, where Ireland and Croatia also await in group play.
"There's always pressure with the national team but these are nice challenges to dream about making history with,'' Xavi said. "The pressure is welcome because we still want to make history with a third straight major title while respecting the rival, and remembering how hard it was to win the World Cup.''
Paul Logothetis can be reached at: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP
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