By Daniel Phan
MELBOURNE, July 12 AAP – Former Real Madrid junior Michael Ferrer was almost moved to tears as Spain ended decades of heartbreak with victory in the World Cup final.
Twenty-six years after spending the best year of his life training with the Spanish club giants, said Ferrer can now finally boast about the nation of his birth winning soccer’s greatest prize.
“I was absolutely ecstatic and am tremendously proud,” Ferrer, who holds dual Australian and Spanish nationality, told AAP on Monday.
“In my household, there was a lot of screaming and I just about shed a tear.
“I have been a little bit of a frustrated fan but (my frustrations) have been put to bed because Spain has finally won the world’s biggest prize.”
Melbourne-based Ferrer is one of 5000 Spaniards residing in Australia.
His 1984 stint with los Blancos’ youth team went largely unreported during a era in which Australian soccer was largely dependent on British training methods.
He trialled with Real as a 16-year-old and spent a year in Spain before homesickness prompted his return to Australia.
Shortly afterwards, Ferrer’s career was struck down by a serious knee injury.
Ferrer said his countrymen, despite revelling in their nation’s recent international success in other major sports, were left frustrated by Spain’s shortcomings in football.
“It’s been a dream come true,” he said.
“We’ve won in everything – the tennis, the basketball, MotoGP and cycling but not in the sport Spaniards love most.
“It’s a great time to be Spanish.’
Spain’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands in Johannesburg also had another significant bearing on Ferrer whose cousin, Ricardo Sanchez Villar, was trained by national team manager Vincente Del Bosque as a junior.
“I stayed with Ricardo during my time with Real Madrid and he, like me, was also hit by injury at an early age,” said Ferrer, who is now a painter by trade.
Ferrer also keenly follows the fortunes of the Socceroos, who were knocked out in the group stages in South Africa.