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Iniesta 'symbolized Euro 2012 success'

Story highlights

  • Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta named best player of Euro 2012
  • Iniesta is one of 10 Spain players in 23-man squad named by UEFA
  • UEFA president hails tournament in Poland and Ukraine as big success
  • Sunday's final registered a record amount of tweets for a sporting event

Andres Iniesta did not feature in the contenders for the best player of the 2010 World Cup despite scoring Spain's winning goal in the final, but the midfielder has been recognized for his country's historic triumph at Euro 2012.

The 28-year-old Barcelona star is one of 10 Spanish players in UEFA's 23-man squad, which features four from losing finalists Italy.

Iniesta, clubmates Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Buesquets plus Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso were included in a nine-strong midfield contingent, while David Silva and Cesc Fabregas were named among five forwards despite playing in Spain's so-called "no striker" formation.

The Spaniards completely nullified Italy's midfield general Andrea Pirlo in Sunday's final, winning 4-0 in Kiev to clinch a third successive major title.

Iniesta did not score and had just one assist, but was rewarded for his overall contribution to the merciless Spanish passing machine. At the 2010 World Cup, David Villa was Spain's only entry in the top three as Uruguay's Diego Forlan was named best player.

"Pirlo was magnificent and obviously circumstances didn't help him in the final," UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh said.

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"Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta were all superb. In the case of Xavi, he won the award last time, and he could easily have won the award again, but we felt that Iniesta deserved it.

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"In many ways, he symbolized the tournament -- the creative, incisive runner, with and without the ball. We felt that he epitomized a lot of what we saw."

The squad included only two players not present in the semifinal matches: England captain Steven Gerrard and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"The players in the squad are those who have contributed in a significant way over the entire tournament," said Roxburgh, a former coach of Scotland's national team.

"Inevitably, the squad is dominated by players from the teams who had the most success -- first of all the team which won the title, Spain, then those players who were in the other top three teams.

"There are other players who could easily have been in the squad, but we restricted ourselves to a set number. The line was drawn at 23 because this was the squad size for the tournament."

UEFA president Michel Platini hailed the tournament in Poland and Ukraine as a big success, despite earlier fears of problems with racism which -- despite several incidents inside stadiums -- did not escalate as predicted.

"This Euro, the first in the East, has been a resounding success, a real triumph," the Frenchman said on UEFA's website.

"Poland and Ukraine showed the whole world that they can organize this type of event and that they needn't have any concerns. They can be proud of the work they've done, their enthusiasm and the final results. I'm proud of them, anyway."