Twenty-three days in June have erased 44 long years of football disappointment for Spain, who on Sunday evening claimed victory at the Euro 2008 championship.
The Swiss press unanimously hailed the Spanish win as the fitting conclusion to a "perfect tournament".
"The best remain the best," led Zurich's Tages-Anzeiger newspaper in its commentary on Spain's European championship victory.
"They played from the first to the last day at a high level, the only team to not lose in six matches, and have zeal like no others," the newspaper wrote. The Spanish team have remained unbeaten since November 2006.
"No question," wrote Bern's Der Bund newspaper. "Spain did not steal this European championship. With a 1-0 score over Germany, the victory was almost too tight, they gave up too many chances and could have actually won 2-0 or 3-0."
"Spain wrote the summer's fairytale," wrote the Neue Luzerner Zeitung, predicting a bright future for the team. "The Spaniards have the quality to play an important role in future tournaments," it wrote.
A long drought
Zurich's Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper also made special mention of the Spaniards' patience. After 12 World Cup appearances and eight European championship starts, the team finally finished as the winner.
Like many both within Switzerland and in the international press, the NZZ was impressed with the quality of play in this year's tournament, particularly compared with the defensive nature of the previous championship.
"In contrast to the sensational victory of the defensive technicians from Greece four years ago, the new European champions have made football purists happy," the newspaper wrote.
"Caramba, finally won," wrote the Fribourg newspaper, La Liberté. "Together, lively, modern: these Spaniards are the best ambassadors for a vintage Euro both technically and tactically, and for the drama of the game."
Less than 12 hours following the final game of the tournament, the Lausanne newspaper 24 Heures already wistfully reminisced.
"Three unforgettable weeks, that after tonight will leave a large void when we sit in front of our televisions," it wrote. "It will be difficult to find a programme as exciting as the one since June 7."
The newspaper congratulated Switzerland and tournament co-host Austria for organising a tournament of "generosity, emotion and passion", and already looked ahead to the world's next major football event.
Those "values have brought good fortune to those who have championed them," it wrote. "And those values must again be applied at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."
Geneva's Le Temps newspaper was keen to praise tournament organisers. "The organisation was almost perfect despite the doubts that existed at the beginning. The two host countries have shown they are capable with an event of this size. It is nice, especially for Switzerland, which seemed to have lost its sense of adventure."
"Curtains closed," the La Reggione newspaper from Italian-speaking canton Ticino wrote. "Switzerland and Austria, more good hosts than good football players, have returned the Euro keys to Uefa."
But for editorialist Fred Hirzel of Le Temps, that phenomenon – combined with the lukewarm atmosphere following the departure of low-ranked hosts Switzerland and Austria – raised some questions.
"One wonders if Uefa has reason to award the Euro to countries that are not true football nations," he asked. The polite enthusiasm here was "nothing comparable with the never-ending party in Germany in 2006, when that team made it to the semi-finals."
South Africa, set to host the 2010 World Cup, and Poland and Ukraine, hosts of Euro 2012, are hardly football powerhouses either. "The universalisation of football at any cost may lead to serious setbacks," Hirzel wrote.
In any case, the past three weeks, which Switzerland had anticipated for so long, would be remembered for great fans and a deserving winner, said the Bund.
"The host countries can take comfort that the European championship was well organised and passed peacefully. In these three weeks, football provided proof of the power of football to connect people. And that also matters."
swissinfo, Justin Häne
La Razón (Spain)
"44 years later... But it was worth the wait, because there was no better team in this championship..."
Berlin Morgen Post
"The more explosive and confident team won – earned. However, this European championship was not a defeat for the German team but a great success. They are a good second and may be proud that in three weeks they have achieved more than Dutch, Portuguese, Russians, French, Italians."
George Vecsey, The New York Times
"...the greatest moment in Spanish soccer of this generation – or perhaps ever."
Chris Myson, Goal.com
"Sunday's showpiece will round off three weeks of entertaining football in Austria and Switzerland that have restored levels of excitement to the international game that have not been seen for years."
Alan Hansen, The Telegraph
"Looking back, virtually every game has had something about it. Euro 2008 has been an invigorating, refreshing tournament through a combination of wonderful attacking and dreadful defending."
Switzerland co-hosted the Euro 2008 football tournament with Austria from June 7-29.
The first round games were played in four cities in Switzerland (Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich) and four cities in Austria (Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Vienna). The semifinals were hosted by Basel and Vienna and the final was held in Vienna on June 29.
The finals were broadcast in 170 countries and were expected to be watched by about eight billion cumulative TV viewers.
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