Spain forward Mikel Oyarzabal said his teammates never lost faith in their abilities and they have proved their mettle by advancing to the Euro 2020 semi-finals.
After a disrupted build-up that saw the squad forced into isolation following captain Sergio Busquets' positive coronavirus test, Spain began with uninspiring draws against Sweden and Poland, drawing plenty of criticism. However, Luis Enrique's side hit their stride when it mattered most, claiming a 5-0 win over Slovakia in the final group game before a 5-3 extra-time victory against World Cup finalists Croatia.
Criticism subsided further after their penalty shootout win against Switzerland in the quarter-finals and Spain now face a blockbuster semi-final clash against old rivals Italy at Wembley on Tuesday.
"From the first day we were confident that we were a solid group, a united group and that we were good enough and we've proved that," Oyarzabal said.
"People are free to say what they like, that's part of football but we never had any doubts at any moment, we always believed in ourselves and we trust in ourselves for what is to come."
Spain are meeting Italy for the fourth European Championships in a row, beating them on penalties in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals, prevailing 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final and then losing 2-0 at Euro 2016.
Italy have been on top form in the tournament and overcame Belgium to reach the last four, but Oyarzabal said his side remains confident.
"They're a top level team with players who keep performing at the highest level with their clubs but we're not any less than them," he said.
"We have to keep having full confidence in ourselves, the way we play and the ideas we have and focus on producing a big performance regardless of who we're playing."
Meanwhile, Italy defender Leonardo Spinazzola has been ruled out of action "for a few months" after suffering a serious injury in their quarter-final win over Belgium, his club AS Roma's new manager Jose Mourinho said.
Italian media reported that full back Spinazzola, who had been one of the standout performers of Euro 2020, sustained a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon injury in their 2-1 win in Munich.
Spinazzola, 28, was pictured in tears on a stretcher as he left the field to be replaced by Emerson Palmieri, who is set to take his spot for Tuesday's semi-final.