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Where are they now? Spain's Euro 2008 drought-breakers

Iker Casillas

Spain have been blessed with good goalkeepers for decades now, but in terms of skills between the posts, leadership and overall achievements, Casillas is perhaps the best of them all.

Handed the captaincy following the exclusion of club team-mate Raul Gonzalez, Casillas led Spain to their most successful period as they followed up success in 2008 by lifting the World Cup two years later in South Africa, and then retained the European Championship in 2012. He is still part of the national team, but could lose his No.1 shirt to David de Gea at Euro 2016.

Casillas won everything there was to win during his 16 years at Real Madrid, but left on a sad note in the summer of 2015 after a fall-out with club president Florentino Perez.

Now contracted to Porto through 2018, Casillas recently expressed his interest to enter management. He also recently welcomed a second child with wife and journalist Sara Carbonero. – VV

Sergio Ramos

Ramos is among the players still donning their boots from the Euro 2008 triumph under Luis Aragones, along with Casillas, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva. His hairstyle from that tournament eight years ago, however, has thankfully been left in the past.

Euro 2016 will be his third European Championship after being a part of the Spain team which won the last two editions.

Despite regularly being linked to Manchester United since 2008, Ramos has remained at Real Madrid and celebrated his 10th anniversary at the Santiago Bernabeu last year.

In France it's likely he'll be given the honour of captaining Spain for the first time, if incumbent skipper Casillas doesn't start in goal. – AS

Carlos Marchena

After announcing his retirement in January this year, Marchena has been involved in community projects to promote football. Last month the former Spain defender helped inaugurate a new football pitch in Canada Real – believed to be Europe’s largest shanty town, situated near Madrid.

On the pitch, Marchena trained with Spanish amateur side CD Gerena for several months after quitting Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters last October. That was a difficult stint for Marchena, however: he featured only once for his club following a persistent back problem.

The former Valencia stopper found Spain appearances hard to come by under current manager Vicente del Bosque, but he did manage to play his 50th undefeated match in a 1-0 win over Paraguay during the victorious 2010 World Cup campaign, surpassing the previous record held by Brazil’s Garrincha (49).­ – HS

Carles Puyol

Named in the Euro 2008 team of the tournament, Puyol was also part of Spain’s rock solid defence at their successful World Cup two years later. He would miss the chance to help Spain defend their Euro title, however, after a knee injury ruled him out in 2012.

He hung up his boots in May 2014 following six La Liga titles and three Champions League wins in almost two decades at Barça.

The former Blaugrana skipper was almost immediately installed as the club's assistant director of football, but he quit in January after his mentor Andoni Zubizarreta was fired. He was said to be in line for a return to football with New York City or Qatar's Al-Sadd last year, but neither materialised.

Instead, Puyol teamed up with former colleague Ivan de la Pena to establish a player agency after rejecting a chance to be Roberto Mancini's assistant at Inter last season. – VV

Joan Capdevila

Capdevila has been well travelled since winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. After leaving Valencia in 2011 he joined Benfica, a move which didn't work out after a single season and only a handful of appearances. He returned home just a year later to join Espanyol, where he spent two seasons.

In 2014, aged 36, he joined Indian Super League team NorthEast United as a marquee player.

He then had a brief stint in Belgium with Lierse and still isn’t slowing down just yet, having signed for Andorran champions Santa Coloma just last month at the age of 38. – AS

Marcos Senna

Since February this year, Senna has been the ambassador of his former club Villarreal. Apart from representing the club in promotional activities, Senna has a keen interest in tournaments involving footballers with intellectual disabilities and Special Olympics athletes.

Senna also has a foundation to raise funds to assist Non-Governmental Organisations and charities and other establishments for children’s welfare.

The Brazil-born holding midfielder retired from the game just last year at the age of 39 after winning a second Soccer Bowl with New York Cosmos.

In his day Senna was the among best holding midfielders around, but he rejected several offers from bigger clubs to remain with Villarreal where he resided from 2002 to 2013. – HS

Andres Iniesta

The 32-year-old playmaker is still at the top of his game, and a key figure for Spanish champions Barcelona and the national team.

Iniesta had always been destined for success. Having led the nation to age-group success in previous years, he was then among the standout players in Spain’s success at Euro 2008.

The La Masia academy product scored the winning goal in the World Cup final against Holland two years later and was named player of the tournament at Euro 2012 after Spain retained the trophy.

Euro 2016 is expected to be his third and final appearance, but it may not be a happy one considering Spain lost to 137th-ranked Georgia in a warm-up friendly. He later told reporters he missed playing alongside retired duo Xavi and Xabi Alonso.

Iniesta is also the owner of Segunda Division side Albacete, having acquired his boyhood club in 2011. – VV

Xavi

You can't blame Iniesta for missing his old team-mate. They both played a key role when Spain won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, and this year Iniesta will have to make do without the man named the best player of Euro 2008.

Xavi retired from international football in 2014 after Spain's disastrous performance at the World Cup. He wasn't only the heartbeat for Spain but also Barcelona, where he spent most of his career.

Many thought he would retire at the Nou Camp but in 2015 he signed for Al-Sadd in Qatar. The Spaniard has won 28 trophies with Barcelona and Spain, including eight league titles, four Champions Leagues, a World Cup and two European Championships.

He could have added one more with Al-Sadd this year, but his side lost on penalties against Lekhwiya in the Emir Cup. – AS

Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas didn’t enjoy a great season with Chelsea in 2015/16, but the midfielder has an eye on leading Spain to a third straight Euro title in France.

The 29-year-old midfielder struggled with form in 2015 but regained his touch at the turn of the year with four goals and five assists before the end of the Premier League season. The Spaniard also completed more accurate short passes (2,191) than any other player last season and has been touted as one of the 50 players likely to make a big impression in Euro 2016.

After playing a leading role in Spain’s victories in 2008 and 2012, Fabregas will be depended on again to marshal his team’s engine room in France alongside Iniesta. – HS

David Silva

This decorated Spaniard first played football on the streets using potatoes for footballs. From the fishing village of Arguineguin on the Canary Islands and rejected by Real Madrid as a teenager, Silva had a World Cup and European Championship to his name by the age of just 24.

He was a regular at Euro 2008 but has always had to contend with Juan Mata and the Barça brigade, so subsequently played only a small part in their 2010 World Cup win.

Silva was later voted into the Euro 2012 team of the tournament, however, and is hoping for a third successive winners' medal this summer. After Euro 2016, the 30-year-old will return to Manchester City ready to link up with new boss Pep Guardiola. – VV

Fernando Torres

The man who ended Spain's painful 44-year wait without a trophy, with his lone goal in the decider enough for Spain to secure the Euro 2008 title.

Torres didn't score in the World Cup two years later – at the same time he was struggling to find form at Chelsea – but managed to find his way into the squad for Euro 2012. In Poland and Ukraine he won the Golden Boot after joint-topping the charts with five other players but playing fewer minutes, having spent most of the tournament on Spain’s bench.

In 2015, Torres returned to Atletico Madrid after failing to live up to the £50 million price tag at Chelsea – which made him the most expensive Spanish player ever – after he'd failed to make an impression at Milan.

The striker was instrumental in Atletico's form in La Liga and the Champions League this year, but failed to make the squad for Euro 2016. – AS

Xabi Alonso – 63' substitute for Fabregas

Once his contract with German club Bayern Munich ends next season, Alonso is keen to try his hand at coaching. With his football smarts, vision and technical ability, it’s no wonder.

The Tolosa-born midfielder has always retained a love for football and hopes to contribute towards the game in other areas after his retirement.

After helping Spain to two European Cup victories and one World Cup, Alonso – who retired from international football in 2014 – is enjoying his summer break in Munich.

Alonso is a self-confessed Liverpool fan after representing the Reds from 2004-09, and as well as Spain has also featured five times for Basque Country (who are not affiliated with FIFA and UEFA) in friendly matches. – HS

Santi Cazorla – 66' substitute for Silva

Cazorla has never really established himself in Spain’s starting XI despite being a standout figure for his club teams Villarreal, Malaga and now Arsenal.

He was a surprise uncapped call-up at Euro 2008 and went on to make five appearances off the bench. He was also in the winning squad four years later, but only played 16 minutes over two games. Cazorla will miss Euro 2016 after an injury-hit season at Arsenal, where he only made 15 league appearances following a six-month lay-off dating back to November.

He also missed the 2010 World Cup due to a hernia injury, and at 31, may not get another chance with the younger generation stepping up. A recent video showing his son Enzo dribbling a ball at the Emirates Stadium gives hope of another Cazorla carrying the flag in years to come.

Though happy at Arsenal, Cazorla recently said he was keen on returning to Villarreal for a third spell at some point before retirement. – VV

Dani Guiza – 78' substitute for Torres

Guiza joined Luis Aragones at Fenerbahce right after the Euro 2008 victory with Spain, where he would win the Turkish Super Lig and cup in his two seasons there.

With Getafe for the 2011/12 season, however, he was unable to reproduce past glories like he experienced with Mallorca, where he scored 27 goals in 37 matches to be the league’s top scorer in 2007/08. Instead he managed just three goals in 32 La Liga outings, only 15 of which were in the starting XI.

In late 2012 he made a shock move to Malaysia’s newly revamped Johor Darul Ta'zim. It was huge for the Malaysian league at that time to have a player of his calibre, but his time in Southeast Asia was brief, and he joined Cerro Porteno in Paraguay in the same year.

Guiza is now back in Spain with second division team Cadiz. – AS

Luis Aragones – Manager

Aragones, a key figure in Spain’s modern-day rise, passed away two years ago at the age of 75.

Spain were regarded as underachievers but Aragones changed that perception by guiding them to Euro 2008, ending 44 years of pain dating back to their victory in the 1964 Euros, and paving the way for further triumphs under Del Bosque.

In a move to improve Spain’s fortunes, Aragones dropped big names like Raul and Michel Salgado and helped transform them into the passing machine that inspired so many other sides. 

He stepped down after the Euro success and went on to manage Turkish club Fenerbahce, which ended in failure after just one season in 2009. – HS

Written by Vijhay Vick, Aysha Ridzuan and Hardeep S

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