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Nov 18, 2013

Spain relishing Johannesburg return

Pedro Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos and David Villa have all spoken of their excitement at returning to the scene of Spain’s 2010 World Cup final win for Tuesday’s friendly against South Africa in Johannesburg.

• Alonso injury 'nothing serious'

La Roja famously won a first World Cup trophy when they beat Netherlands 1-0 at Soccer City stadium on July 11, with Andres Iniesta hitting the winning goal in extra time after a tense and pulsating game.

Barcelona winger Pedro told Marca that revisiting the site of Spanish football’s greatest moment would bring back a number of unforgettable memories.

“It makes us very happy remembering a great moment, something unforgettable,” he said. “There are loads of memories from the game -- the image of the tunnel before going out, the moment of the anthems, Andres’ goal, which is the biggest moment of them all, and, of course, in the stand with the trophy.

“But we also want to play a good game against South Africa and leave with the victory.”

Real Madrid defender Ramos told AS he often thought of the 2010 experience, especially Iniesta’s calmly-taken strike, and the feeling when the final whistle went a few minutes later.

“All the memories are very nice, it seems like it was just yesterday, but the years are going by,” Ramos said. “I stick with Andres’ goal and when the final whistle of the game went. In that moment I felt very proud to be Spanish and to defend my country.

“I have a little replica of the World Cup in my office, and some big photos, and every time I get home I see them. We did not just win a kickabout with our mates, we won a World Cup, it is something to be proud about for your whole life. Now it is up to us to defend the trophy.”

Atletico Madrid striker David Villa, whose five goals in the competition were crucial to the Spanish victory, told AS even the sound of the vuvuzelas played by local fans would bring back good memories for him.

“It was something that made an impression on us throughout the whole World Cup -- all that noise they made with the vuvuzelas,” Villa said. “We will remember that with a smile.”

Spain’s friendlies this week -- especially Saturday’s controversial fixture in Equatorial Guinea -- have again been questioned due to the long journeys required during the middle of busy club schedules.

Villa said there was indeed a lot of travelling involved, but he was proud to represent the world champions anywhere around the globe.

“After the recent successes of the team there are more requests to play further away, all over the world,” he said. “It makes us proud and it is always an honour to represent Spain. It is a very long journey but it is very nice to be back here.”

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