Euro stars

Five play­ers from this sum­mer’s LUKE MASSEY se­lects his top in the Czech Re­pub­lic Euro­pean Un­der-21 Cham­pi­onships

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - EUROPEAN U21 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.

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