The big interview: Emilio Butragueno - "I scored four goals, but it wasn't one of my best games"

How does it feel to score four goals in a World Cup match? Simon Talbot asked Emilio Butragueno, who did just that for Spain against Denmark...

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Scoring four times in one World Cup match is some achievement. Talk us through it...

When you get that many goals it’s special, but to do so against a side like Denmark, who were a wonderful team and went into that game as favourites, is even more special. I met up with my dad in the hotel after the game and we couldn’t believe how lucky I had been. The reaction of both of us was: ‘Wow!’ It’s just not normal to get four goals in one game, especially not one as important as that.

Was that the game of your life? 

Actually, if you analyse it, it wasn’t one of my best games. Everything just fell right for me. If you look at the first two goals it sums it up: the first was a bad back pass and the a header from a corner. Me? A header? I hardly ever scored headers! They’d started the second half really well and wasted a couple of very good chances. It was 1-1 and then we got that goal. After that, they attacked us but we were dangerous on the break.

Next up was Belgium. You must have fancied your chances...

Belgium were a good side, with Cuelemans and Scifo, but it was a different type of game, less open. And we definitely deserved to win it, but then it got to penalties and when that happens it’s basically a toss of a coin. It came up tails for us.

How did you feel?

Like we had wasted an historic opportunity. A great chance had gone. You wonder if you will get another chance. If only I could have scored three against Denmark and saved the other one for Belgium. But of course that’s not the way it works. After the Belgium game I felt we would never get as good a chance ever again.

Does that mean the memories of the four goals are tinged with regret?

No. I’m honoured to have represented Spain in two World Cups and to be the only Spaniard to have scored four goals in one game. I’m proud and delighted. Sure, it happens a lot and people ask me: "Don’t you get tired of it?" But how could I ever get tired of being reminded about scoring four goals? It’s nice to be reminded of something so lovely.

Interview: May 2010.