Prandelli proud, Iker savours win
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli praised his side despite losing the Euro 2012 final to history-making Spain, and hailed the tournament a success.
The champions came flying out of the blocks in Sunday's showpiece, and deservedly took a 14th-minute lead via David Silva, with Jordi Alba then doubling the advantage four minutes before the break.
Late goals from Fernando Torres and Juan Mata sealed the victory for Spain as Italy had no answer to their dominant play.
Despite the loss, Prandelli was pleased after his side surprised many pundits by making the final, following knock-out wins over England and Germany.
Reaching the final also restored faith in the national side after their below-par showing in the 2010 World Cup.
"It could be seen from the beginning that Spain were fresher than us. We hadn't had time to recover our strengths during the last week," Prandelli told Rai tv. "Immediately we knew to close better spaces. We have suffered a lot on a physical level.
"Anyway, it has been a sensational tournament and I pay my compliments to my players.
"We must grow and arrive at these important competitions with the right space during and after the Italian championship."
Italy's captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon admitted the better side had won.
"Tonight, there was no contest, they were too superior, so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative," he said.
Spain boss Vincente Del Bosque gambled with his team selection, once again opting to play without a recognised striker, but this time out it turned out to be a masterstroke.
"We respect (Italy) very much," said Del Bosque.
"They were a great rival, but we took control of the game as time went by."
In lifting the trophy, Spain became the first side to defend the title and the first European side to win three consecutive international tournaments.
The magnitude of their achievement has not been lost on the players, with Barcelona-bound Alba delighted to have played his part in a piece of football history.
"My team-mates made history before and now I am doing so together with them in my first European Championship," said the flying full-back.
"I am struggling to believe it but it seems to be sinking in little by little.
"I told my friends and family I was going to score tonight and that's the way it turned out."
Real Madrid keeper and national skipper Iker Casillas has been a constant throughout their unrivalled run of success and is honoured to have formed part of a record-breaking squad.
"This is such a truly wonderful moment. The second goal from Jordi (Alba) clinched it really," he told Telecinco television.
"It's been four marvellous years. You might think that a 4-0 margin against Italy means it was easy - but we have been gradually stepping up as the tournament went along."
Spain had been criticised heading into a final date with Italy for being boring, but blew any such suggestions out of the water as they tore into the Azzurri.
"There will always be some criticism as we have set the bar so high that that's what happens when you come down a pip," he added.
"We have been able to get the best out of our players and make full use of our characteristics. And they (the Italians) were tired.
"Now we will go off and savour the win together."