MADRID: Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero singled out Andres Iniesta (pic), who scored the winner during Spain’s 1-0 defeat of Holland in the World Cup final, for praise on Monday, saying there was no better role model for youths.
“He represents like no one else (when it comes to) good football and human qualities. I want to make a special mention of somebody who yesterday remembered someone who is no longer with us when he scored the winning goal,” Zapatero said during a reception for the Spanish squad at his official residence.
“There is no better role model for our youths, given his talent and personal qualities. Thank you Iniesta for remembering Dani yesterday during an unforgettable day for Spain.”
Zapatero was referring there to the incident immediately after Iniesta scored his extra-time goal, when the 26-year-old took off his blue Spain jersey to reveal a white T-shirt bearing the message: “Dani Jarque: always with us”.
Jarque collapsed and died at the age of 26 in August 2009 following a training session in Coverciano, Italy, while his Espanyol squad were on a pre-season camp just one month after being named captain of the team.
Iniesta, who was Jarque’s team-mate on Spain’s Under-17, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 teams, was given a yellow card for removing his jersey during the match.
He gave the Prime Minister a red Spanish team jersey which was signed by the entire squad.
“Yes, I know he did not score the goal,” he joked just before giving Zapatero the jersey.
“I want to talk for a bit. Thank you for the welcome, I am very proud to be a part of this team and this little trophy is for everyone,” he added. — AFP