On the back of the team’s unexpected success in Portugal, Greek Secretary of State for Sport, Georgios Orfanos has announced that Greece will be a candidate for the 2012 European Championships. Following the failure of the joint bid with Turkey for the 2009 event, losing out to Austria/Switzerland, it is hoped that the infrastructure created for this year’s Olympics will help to swing votes Greece’s way.
Liverpool’s Swiss defender Stephane Henchoz has blamed his team’s failure on lack of communication and block-building. “The German-speaking players do not talk to the French-speaking players and there is no team spirit,” he said. Switzerland also fielded two Turks and a naturalised Brazilian.
Ahead of England’s game with Croatia, Sven Goran Eriksson was pleased to note that the opposition were at each other’s throats. Former coach Miroslav Blazevich attacked current manager Otto Baric, accusing the Austrian of leading the team “like a blind man”. Blazevich’s outburst infuriated players and striker Tomislav Sokota threatened to run him down in the street if he saw him! On the other hand, fellow front-man Ivan Klasnic had already booked his summer holiday!
Back to the USSR
Following severe criticism of coach Yartsev, influential Russian midfielder Mostovoi was sent home. The decision was met with approval by all fans questioned. Nevertheless, Russia became the first team to be eliminated from the competition.
The German team has refused to stay on the 13th floor of the five-star Corinthia Alfa Hotel during their sojourn in Lisbon. Following the 0-0 draw against Latvia, the decision seems somewhat ludicrous.
England keeper David James has bemoaned the fact that training videos provided by the FA did not include Zidane free kicks. Let us hope that he has enough study-time before a possible repeat encounter.
Goal-less German striker Kevin Kuranyi, who was born in Brazil and has a Panamanian mother, surprised journalists by responding to questions in fluent Portuguese. He was, however, unable to explain why he has so far failed to score.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, in Portugal to sight new talent for his dream-team, spent 5,000 euros on lunch the other day. The multi-millionaire reserved the entire first floor of the Tavares Rico Restaurant in Lisbon, spending 1,000 euros on flowers beforehand, only to fail to show. It emerged that reservations were made at three or four other restaurants as well, but Abramovich and his entourage eventually enjoyed lunch at the Fortaleza Restaurant at the Guincho near Cascais. All other bills were paid in full. Such is the life of the seriously rich!
Holland coach Dick Advocaat has withdrawn from the Dutch Coaching Federation following criticism of his tactics from colleagues. Should the highly-talented Dutch team face an early exit from Euro 2004, Advocaat may well find himself out of a job too.
In all 24 of the 368 players in Portugal for the European Championships will be celebrating their birthdays during the tournament. Among these were Greece’s Fyssas, Germany’s goal-keeping legend Oliver Kahn and the Dutch pair Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
• The encounter between Portugal and Russia broke all national television records for a game of football. The station SIC recorded an 80.2 per cent audience share as over three million viewers tuned in to the vital 2-0 win.
• More beer than ever before was sold in one day at the beginning of Euro 2004. High temperatures contributed to 2.4 million litres of lager crossing the counter on Tuesday, June 15. Of these 2,000 litres, corresponding to 50 barrels containing 20 litres each, were sold by the Figo-owned Hard Rock Café in Lisbon and his Sete Bar in Vilamoura alone.
• The official Euro 2004 website, euro2004.com’, has so far received the most visits of any UEFAsite ever. In all, 12 million people have clicked on, viewing 130 million pages. One reason may well be that the website is available in 200 countries in nine languages, including Chinese and Japanese.
• A group of Dutch fans have journeyed from Athens to Porto without using any petrol whatsoever. Solar panels powered the vehicle that made the 6,500km journey across Europe to be present at the tournament.