Andrés Iniesta described Spain's achievement in securing a third successive major title as "magical" as the European Championship was retained in scintillating style at Italy's expense.
The Spanish made a mockery of suggestions that their style had become "boring" by summoning their most impressive display of the tournament. Their lead was established before the interval and doubled in the latter stages when the Azzurri were reduced to 10 men following Thiago Motta's hamstring injury. Vicente del Bosque, who was congratulated by King Juan Carlos I, described his team's performance as "extraordinary" with Iniesta at the forefront of a stunning display.
"We had a great level of play this evening and we were faithful to our style throughout," said the Barcelona midfielder, who followed up his man-of-the-match display in the World Cup final by claiming the award from Uefa last night. "Of course, it would have been different had Italy not been playing with 10 by the end, because that made things easier for us. But we have to enjoy this victory. Everybody has their own point of view and we are not here saying our game is the most beautiful of them all. But this achievement is unique. It's magical. Something that cannot be repeated. We still haven't really realised how great this is. Spanish football is living great years. We are very complete as a football side and we have to be proud of that."
Asked if Spain had proved their detractors wrong, Cesc Fábregas said: "I think so. Those people who think we are playing boring, in my opinion, don't understand the game. This feels really amazing. One of the best days of my life. I don't think we're ready to see what we have done yet – three major trophies in a row has never been done before in football. It's difficult to understand but, in time, I think we will understand. It is amazing."
Del Bosque had been forced to defend his tactic of playing no recognised striker through most of the tournament, though the Spanish ended up with Fernando Torres claiming the golden boot following his late reward and assist for Juan Mata as a substitute here. The manager is now targeting further progress in the years ahead, with Spain hoping to become the first European team to claim a World Cup in South America at Brazil 2014.
"This success for Spanish football is something historic but now we have to look to the future," said Del Bosque. "There will be more challenges ahead, including qualifying for Brazil and the Confederations Cup next summer, where we'll represent Europe. But we must go on. This is a great era for Spanish football and we are talking about a great generation of footballers. They come from a country where they learn how to play – we have done a great job with football in Spain – and this was reward for them. I spoke with the King and his son and they were very excited. This was an extraordinary night."
The defeated Italy manager, Cesare Prandelli, praised his team for their efforts over the tournament and put the defeat down to fatigue after the short turnaround between the semi-final and final. He spoke with Mario Balotelli upon the striker's return to the pitch after the final whistle – the 21-year-old had initially gone straight down the tunnel, shoving an official aside, at 90 minutes – and urged the player to learn from this chastening experience.
"You have to deal with things like this and accept them," said Prandelli, who insisted he would stay on as coach, being contracted to the 2014 World Cup. "Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say the opponents were better but you must make sure this helps you going forward and that you grow from the experience. Spain have made history and deservedly so. They've been playing terrific football for a number of years now and they've got players who are tried and tested at this level. In spite of the fact they don't play with a traditional striker, they still cause a hell of a lot of problems."
The 54-year-old will speak with the Italian Football Federation but intends to stay on with his team having made remarkable progress in his two years in charge. "Absolutely, I want to continue," added Prandelli. "This, of course, will be a tough project but a very exciting one. My only regret is that we didn't have more time to prepare. We were exhausted, completely spent energy-wise. [Giorgio] Chiellini and Motta pulled hamstrings, and we had other players who finished despite being injured. But I'm very proud of my team."