Five players from this summer’s LUKE MASSEY selects his top in the Czech Republic European Under-21 Championships
THERE was a moment before the Germany vs Denmark game at the Eden Arena when I found myself sitting outside in the summer heat talking to both German and Danish fans. They chatted between themselves in good humour, singing songs, sharing cold draught beers and eating freshly cooked sausages from a nearby stall, which set you back not much more than 80 pence apiece. A good price for a meal before watching a game for which a ticket didn’t cost much more than £2. I got a sense of nostalgia for a period of football I was never a part of.
I’m 31 and apart from a few early games when I was kid at Ibrox,Villa Park and Highfield Road, football didn’t really take a hold of me till my mid-teens. By that time Sky had well and truly taken over the sport.
Maybe this is what football used to be like, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe watching football is like this in some countries, maybe it isn’t.
Here for the price of a fiver you can see a high-end game, have a few beers and get something decent to eat.
I know it won’t be like this at any top-flight game I see in the UK next season or in France for the Euros next summer.
What follows are the five players who made the most impact for me at the tournament in one way or another, not necessarily the best, but the stories that resonated with me for whatever reason... of football signs him up, probably for half the price of Juventus’ Paul Pogba.
Carvalho didn’t put a foot wrong during the group stages of the Under21 tournament, looking head and shoulders above everyone else on the park, not only in terms of physique but also technical ability. It was a case of a man playing a boys’ game.
Carvalho came into his own and moved up a gear in the final versus Sweden, ensuring his team kept another clean sheet. In fact, Portugal only conceded one goal in the tournament which was in the group stages to eventual winners Sweden. It came in the 89th minute, when they had already secured top spot in the group. Though Carvalho seemed to pass through every game with ease, it’s worth noting he covered more ground than any other player in the group stages of the tournament.
Despite missing the final penalty for Portugal in the final, he was deservedly named as player of the tournament.