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World Cup 2010: Spanish team shows unity

National team brings together Spain's previously divided groups.

Spanish World Cup team
The Spanish national team has put aside its ethnic differences to work together in the World Cup. Here, Spain's defender Carles Puyol, center, celebrates with Spain's defender Sergio Ramos, left, and Spain's midfielder Xavi after the 2010 World Cup semifinal against Germany on July 7, 2010. (Pierre-Philippe Marcou/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Sergio Ramos, the rampaging defender who wanted to be a bullfighter but his mother wouldn’t let him, might not appear at first glance to be the Spanish soccer team’s most articulate spokesman.

Far more athlete than ambassador and unashamedly haughty about his looks, his physical attributes and his famously long, pony-tailed locks, the Real Madrid player nonetheless persuasively described the social responsibility which is felt among the Spanish team as World Cup finalists.

“We have a playing style which we actively want to represent and embody our country,” he told GlobalPost. “Personally, I want to be a flag bearer for the ordinary man back in Spain who is honest, hard working and gets his job done with extra fire and passion on the day of a Spain game, so that he can get home to the sofa in his living room or join his community in the bar and watch us win."

Ramos said the team wants the Spanish people “to be proud of us. When we felt the enormous pride and unity and joy which we caused by winning the European Championships two years ago it was enormously special.”

Spain's appreciation for its national soccer team has soared in recent years — certainly since the population was able to savor themselves as "champions" of Europe.

This generation of talented players sees no cultural or linguistic barriers dividing them despite their various Basque, Catalan, Andalucian and Castillian backgrounds. The unity shown by the Spanish squad is a motor for change for the entire country.

The national unity forged by the team can be appreciated in the catchy pop song celebrating the World Cup team.

It is clear that your average Spanish working Joe, or Josefina, is grateful for a new image of Spanish national unity and the promise of better economic times.

Spain's economic growth has slowed significantly, the construction industry has vastly over-reached itself and the debt position — third worst in the euro-zone — has seen Standard and Poor downgrade Spain twice since January. Spain is now ranked with Slovenia as the effects of Greece's ‘super-crisis’ spread amongst the financially feeble of Europe.

So it was with great feeling that Spain coach Del Bosque emphasised on Wednesday evening, after his side toyed with Germany then put them to the sword, that “good things also happen in Spain."

“Many changes have happened in Spain over the last 30 years, mostly for the good," said Del Bosque. “We are now involved in Europe, involved in the world and the country has produced a generation of great sportsmen of whom we can be massively proud”