Murray sealed a historic 3-1 win in Ghent yesterday with a straight sets victory over David Goffin, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
He fell to the clay after his winning lob arced over the Belgian’s head and then was mobbed by his delighted team-mates. Included in the melee was brother Jamie, with whom Andy had clinched a pivotal victory on Saturday in the doubles rubber.
Andy Murray later rated yesterday’s win, which meant his team-mates tasted glory as well as himself, as the most emotional of his career. Coming from someone who ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men’s singles win, and who has also won an Olympic gold medal, this must be treated as a significant claim.
He also suggested the entire team should be invited to kneel on a knighting stool in front of the Queen. “I think everyone deserves one,” he smiled when asked if Leon Smith, the team captain from Glasgow, should be knighted. Murray himself is already an OBE and is now firmly in the running to be named BBC sports personality of the year. As for team of the year, there is surely now no debate. The Scot was delighted he was able to clinch victory for his team-mates – Jamie, Kyle Edmund, James Ward, Dan Evans and Dominic Inglot – some of whom might never reach such heights again. “I probably haven’t been as emotional as that after a match that I’ve won,” he said. “I’ve been pretty upset after having lost matches before. But I’d say that’s the most emotional I have been. It’s incredible that we managed to win this competition, I didn’t think that it would ever be possible.”
Murray was worried he would let his team-mates and an expectant British nation down. But the Scot took slightly less than three hours yesterday to make this fear seem ridiculous. He was unsure about the main motivation, whether it was playing for his country, or simply his team-mates.
“It is a combination of everything,” he said. “I know this team extremely well. Because we have been together for such a long time, there is a stronger bond between us than there probably has been in the past. You get to know each other, respect each other. We are close friends.
“Nothing may ever top this now,” he added. “Hopefully we can win it again next year or we can go on to win Grand Slams and Wimbledon or the Olympics. But this will definitely remain a career highlight of all of our careers. You don’t want to let it past without enjoying it.”
The players partied in Ghent last night before another scheduled winners’ press conference in Belgium this morning. They then return to London, where they have a table booked in Nobu, the top Japanese restaurant once favoured by Boris Becker, tonight.
A well-known boxing fan, Andy Murray also revealed he stayed up later than planned on the eve of yesterday’s crucial match with Belgium’s No 1 player to watch Tyson Fury defeat Wladimir Klitschko in Saturday’s world heavyweight fight in Dusseldorf. “I found a stream,” he said. “It probably wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do.”
Smith is bound to forgive his star player, whose contribution has been so central to the team’s upward trajectory. The captain’s first match in charge was in July 2010 in a relegation play-off against Turkey to avoid falling into the lowest division of the competition alongside Andorra and San Marino.
“It has to be one of the best achievements of all time,” said Smith, when asked to place such a rapid turnaround in fortunes in a British sporting context.
Smith, too, was asked whether it was time to create Britain’s first tennis knight, to mark Andy Murray’s achievements, from winning a US Open title, a Wimbledon title, an Olympic gold, to this.
“Look, you are asking the wrong guy,” he said. “But I hold Andy in the absolutely highest esteem. I can’t talk highly enough of him. I could go on and on and talk for the next hour about him.”
Judy Murray, mother of Andy and Jamie, was also understandably proud. She had felt particularly emotional on Saturday, when she watched her sons earn a crucial victory over Goffin and Steve Darcis in the doubles rubber. “It has been an amazing three days,” she said.
“It has actually been an amazing journey since we played the United States [in the first round]. But for me watching the boys play doubles together has always been the most emotional time for me, because they are right there, side by side.”
She called on the Lawn Tennis Association to turn such a historic victory into long-term gain. “What I really hope is that British tennis can build on it,” she said. “There’s an enormous buzz. So many fans travelled here to support the team. Maybe not all of them play tennis but they love watching it and are now engaged with it. We need to make sure we can now capitalise on this and really grow our sport.”