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Princess pals put national loyalties aside at unforgettable World Cup close

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May the best side win: Spain's Queen Sofia and the Netherlands' Crown Prince Willem-Alexander applaud the teams, while Prince Felipe watches his wife Letizia give Princess Maxima a warm hug
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 Photo: © Getty Images

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Sealed with a kiss: emotional goalkeeper Iker Casillas planted a surprise smacker on his reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero while being interviewed by her live on TV 

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Nelson Mandela gets swept up in the excitement with his wife Graça Machel
 Photo: © PA

12 JULY 2010

With the eyes of the world trained on their country, South Africa bid farewell to their international guests at the World Cup final in a spectacular closing ceremony, featuring show-stopping pyrotechnics and a snake-hipped performance from Shakira.

Before the so-called Furia Roja - the Spanish team – stormed to victory over The Netherlands, there was plenty of pomp and circumstance.

The show included giant model elephants, set by a capella group Lady Smith Black Mambazo and an appearance by Nelson Mandela.

Unable to be present at the start of the tournament because of the death of his great-granddaughter, the grandfather of the nation was cheered loudly as he and his wife Graça Machel arrived in a golf buggy.

To a wail of vuvuzelas, Mr Mandela raised a hand in greeting to the throngs there to witness what has been a celebration of the entire African continent.

Another highlight of the night was the sight of the Spanish and Dutch royal families, each clad in their national colours, embracing before the game.

Princess Letizia of Spain proved that opponents can be friends in the beautiful game, throwing her arms around her Dutch counterpart Maxima.

When their rivals pulled ahead scoring in the closing minutes of extra time, Maxima's husband Willem-Alexander put his head in his hands in disappointment.

His dejection was matched by the unbridled joy of the Iberian victors, savouring their first ever win at football's biggest prize.

One of the enduring images of their celebrations was the sight of goalkeeper Iker Casillas dissolving into tears on the pitch at the enormity of the achievement.

Emotional Iker, also the captain, struggled to contain himself during a post-match interview conducted by his girlfriend journalist Sara Carbonero.

Clearly overcome as he tried to put his feelings into words, the player settled for pulling her towards him and planting a big kiss on her on live TV.