POINT TO PONDER
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
- Vince Lombardi
STORY LINE by Dave Hightower
As I watched the finals of the European Championship this past Sunday, it became extremely evident that the world was witnessing history in the making. The juggernaut that is Spain was en route to becoming the first national team to win three consecutive major tournaments: Euro Cup 2008 & 2012, and World Cup 2010.
Furthermore, Spain’s performance throughout the entire 2012 European Championship, which culminated in a 4-0 thrashing of Italy in the final, confirmed that the Spanish are, without a doubt, the best national team ever to grace the pitch.
In addition to winning yet another championship, Spain set several extraordinary records during the course of this tournament. La Roja held opponents goalless for over 500 minutes and only allowed one goal during the entire tournament (6 games).
What makes these achievements all the more remarkable is that Spain has traditionally been considered one of the greatest underachieving teams in history. Fractious divisions and internal conflicts between players from the leagues top two contenders, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have continuously stifled any sort of cohesive play or team spirit over the years.
Then something amazing happened. As the new guard progressed through Spain’s youth program, friendships and alliances were formed before loyalties and hatreds were sworn in blood. Moreover, the up-and-comers understood that success at the national level would require a healthy combination of teamwork and loyalty… even if it involved their sworn enemy.
What followed is one of the most impressive displays of dominance by any sports team in history, both in performance and results. Their tika-taka style is not only the most attractive brand of football in the world, but also the most effective. It combines elegance, grace, and finesse to cleverly hypnotize and ruthlessly dismantle opponents. But it cannot succeed without the highest level of trust and understanding amongst teammates. With, it is impossibly effective. And as the results show, Spain has performed this technique to perfection over the past 4+ years.
Recently the Spanish national soccer team has provided the perfect example of what can be accomplished when people put their petty grievances aside and focus on something larger than themselves. Although half of La Roja (and 9 of 11 starters) currently plays for Barca or Madrid, hostilities from domestic clubs have been set aside for the greater good of the national team. Consequently the Spanish have experienced the exhilaration of winning a major international tournament on three separate (consecutive) occasions. What’s more, they are widely regarded as being the greatest team ever. It’s amazing that it only took a little teamwork and loyalty to take Spain from perpetual underachievers to the greatest team ever to play the game.
*Quote from Michael Jordan