The president of the Spanish soccer association, Angel Maria Villar, and the coach of Spain’s national team, Vicente del Bosque, dedicated the country's World Cup trophy to St. James the Apostle on Dec. 27.
The Spanish soccer team won the World Cup in South Africa in July 2010.
Villa spoke at the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela and referred to the Spanish soccer team's devotion to the apostle. He recalled that during his last visit to the cathedral in April 2010 he prayed for the success of the team at the World Cup.
“We asked a lot from you, but we trusted that you would hear our prayers. And you did. We are here today with the World Cup in our hands to dedicate it to you, St. James, because you helped us to become world champions,” Villa said.
“We have come here as victors of the World Cup, traveling down different roads from the ones you crossed on your way to Galicia ... Our paths have been different and we have traveled them in faraway lands, 12 hours and thousands of miles away by plane, in South Africa, a land our soccer team barely knew, and yet a land in which our soccer team experienced its greatest glory,” Villa said.
He noted that the 2010 victory was an achievement the country had only dreamed of since 1934. “We had won many other tournaments – almost all of them. We had triumphed in the greatest of soccer matches but not in the World Cup,” he added.
“We put everything we had into it, every human and technological resource at our disposal, as well as an unbeatable group of players, a truly golden generation. We tied up every lose end, and we prayed to you for victory. It was very difficult. We faced great rivals. But we had faith in you, St. James, and in the quality of our players and their coaches.”
On July 11, he continued, “all of our dreams came true. Millions of fans came to watch inspired by a fantastic group of players. We made our way through the World Cup, in suffering and in joy, but always with faith and hope and convinced that in the end, the victory could be ours. And it was.”
For this reason, the players have returned with the trophy they won “through great effort and brilliance,” he continued. “We won it by following the paths you showed us 2,000 years ago. These paths are none other than those of humility, kindness, generosity, solidarity, patience, temperance, faith and hope in what we are doing. Thus we traveled to South Africa and thus we return home to you, in Santiago de Compostela,” Villa concluded.