Respect for the rival, respect for Italy. Iker Casillas has drawn enough praise during his long and incredibly successful career, but the closing moments of the Euro 2012 final, with Spain already leading 4-0 and the referee adding needless injury time minutes, might have been his finest moments in the terms of sportsmanship, asking the ref to blow the whistle out of respect for their rivals.
It’s not that Casillas deserves to be the MVP of the tournament on this merit alone. Spain conceded only one goal throughout the tournament, way back in the first match against Italy. Since then? Five straight matches, scoring 11 goals (so much for boring, eh?), zero goals conceded. Mind you it has a lot to do with Spain’s style and the fact that they hardly lose possession or are caught off guard and out of their positions, but even when they were, Casillas was there to make the stop.
Sportsmanship doesn’t show up too often, and you might say that it’s easy to be respectful to your rivals when you’re leading 4-0. It probably is easier, but it doesn’t change the fact that Casillas’ “good deed” was caught on camera, not only showing what an immense athlete and person he is, but what he and Spain (assumption) thought about their rivals, no matter the result.