Dani Jarque is gone, but never forgotten. After scoring the deciding goal, Andres Iniesta revealed a shirt under his jersey which read: "Dani Jarque siempre con nosotros," which translates to "Dani Jarque: always with us."
Jarque collapsed and died at the age of 26 last year, one month after being named captain of Espanyol. Jarque, who suffered a heart attack before a preseason game in Italy, holds a special place in Iniesta's heart after they rose through the ranks together. Iniesta and Jarque were teammates on Spain's under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-21 teams.
Jarque's girlfriend was seven months into her pregnancy at the time of his death in August 2009. The tragedy still resonates with the Spanish players even though Jarque never played for the national team.
Award Winners: Diego Forlan Takes Golden Ball | Thomas Mueller Wins Golden Boot
Stylelist: Best, Worst Looking Players | Complete World Cup Coverage
"I wanted to carry Dani with me," Iniesta told the Associated Press after picking up his man of the match award. "We wanted to pay tribute to him and we thought it was the best opportunity to do so."
It wasn't the first time one of Spain's stars paid tribute to Jarque. A week after he died, Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas, also a former teammate of Jarque on the under-21 team, dedicated a goal in a 6-1 Premier League win at Everton by raising up a shirt with Jarque's name and shirt number.
Iniesta's goal in the 116th minute carried Spain to a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands as La Furia Roja captured its first World Cup trophy. "This is for Dani Jarque, for my family, for all of the people. It is the result of hard work over a long time and some difficult moments," Iniesta told ESPN.com.
The touching gesture earned Iniesta a yellow card, due to a rule that states players cannot remove their jerseys without penalty. But the yellow card -- just one of a record 14 in the World Cup final -- was but a footnote in Spain's historic win.
"When the game finished a lot of the difficult moments flashed in front of me," Iniesta said. "But, in the end, football sometimes gives back. Every situation has its moment and with this one I felt enormous happiness."