Ahead of Sunday's Euro 2012 final against Italy, Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas admitted he still had difficulty taking in the scale of his achievements with the national team over the last four years.
The captain of the team that triumphed at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, the 31-year-old is bidding to become the first player to skipper a side to success at three consecutive international tournaments.
Having progressed through the Spanish youth teams before making his international debut in 2000, Casillas is well placed to analyse the startling rise of the Spanish national side in recent years.
He has been joined on the journey by his midfield colleague Xavi, 32, and the Real Madrid goalkeeper said the foundations put in place by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) augured well for the future.
"We started 15 years ago when we were 16 and we went through all the youth teams together and this has taught us a lot," he said on Saturday.
"It shows all the youngsters coming through will have their chance and I hope that they'll continue improving."
Spain's success at Euro 2008 represented their first title since the 1964 European Championship and Casillas said that even he had been surprised by the success that followed.
"Four years ago, we achieved something that nobody expected because we'd never done it before," he said.
"The World Cup also, because people were rooting for us and we managed to win. The evolution of the team is quite visible, and the continuity as well.
"Four years ago, Spain were in the final and we never imagined we'd have won the Euro and the World Cup within two years.
"History has been created already because we're in the final again and we wouldn't have thought that possible four years ago."