Spanish PM praises World Cup scorer Iniesta

MADRID, July 12, 2010 (AFP) - Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero singled out Andres Iniesta, who scored the winner during Spain's 1-0 defeat of the Netherlands in the World Cup final, for praise Monday, saying there was no better role model for youths.

"He represents like no one else good football and human qualities. I want to make a special mention of somebody who yesterday remembered someone who is no longer with us when he scored the winning goal," Zapatero said during a reception for the Spanish squad at his official residence.

"There is no better role model for for our youths, given his talent and personal qualities. Thank you Iniesta for remembering Dani yesterday during an unforgettable day for Spain."

Andres Iniesta is carried by team mates on a stage set up for the Spanish team in Madrid on July 12, 2010 a day after they won the 2010 FIFA football World Cup. AFP

Zapatero was referring there to the incident immediately after Iniesta scored his extra-time goal, when the 26-year-old took off his blue Spain jersey to reveal a white T-shirt bearing the message: "Dani Jarque: always with us".

Jarque collapsed and died at the age of 26 in August 2009 following a training session in Coverciano, Italy while his Espanyol squad were on a pre-season camp just one month after being named captain of the team.

Iniesta, who was Jarque's teammate on Spain's under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-21 teams, was given a yellow card for removing his jersey during the match.

He gave the prime minister a red Spanish team jersey which was signed by the entire squad.

"Yes, I know he did not score the goal," he joked just before giving Zapatero the jersey.

"I want to talk for a bit. Thank you for the welcome, I am very proud to be a part of this team and this little trophy is for everyone," he added.

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