Three major titles in a span of five years.
Everyone is focused on what Spain has accomplished. But on the day after La Roja outclassed Italy in Kiev in the Euro 2012 final, there is also a distinct feeling that Spain could have done more.
No, 4-0 was plenty when it comes to the scoreline. But at 2-0 up, with the match well in hand, Spain really had a chance to transcend.
Italy had raised the white flag with 30 minutes to go. When midfielder Thiago Motta hobbled off the pitch, so too did any real Italian hopes of vanquishing the world champs. He was Italy's last sub and he was done. Italy were down to 10 men the rest of the way.
At that point the mighty Spaniards could have made the ultimate fair play gesture and voluntarily removed a player to even the field at 10-vs.-10.
Whether it was the recently introduced Pedro or even Cesc Fabregas, it wouldn't have mattered with a smattering of minutes left. They would still have won the game and they would have transcended like no team has since the 1970s Brazil side for a simple act of fair play.
They didn't. Instead they chose to keep pouring it on, bringing on two fresh subs who rounded out the score. It was akin to kicking at the cast of a person with a broken leg who just lost a crutch.
But there was one player in red who did opt for Fair Play this weekend.
In the first half of Toronto FC's 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls, Reggie Lambe could have easily hit the deck after he was tugged by New York defender Wilman Conde — it would have meant a red card ejection for Conde. Instead, the Bermudan international chose to stay on his feet. And people took notice. (Watch it here).
“[Lambe] is a young player and a very honest player,” TFC manager Paul Mariner said afterward. “Some players in the world would go down. If you want to be candid then we would have been playing 10 men then. In our position that would have been nice, but my hat goes off to him.”
Too bad we couldn't say the same for Spain.