- 29 Jun 08, 07:00 PM
Well, it was a long time in arriving and flew by quicker than I can believe. Euro 2008 has been my first tournament for BBC Sport, and what a special three weeks it's been. But now it's time to start packing for home.
All the presents I've bought seem like a bad idea now and just will not fit into a suitcase that was already full in the way out...great planning, Jake!!
My suitcase may be full, but it's positively vacuous compared to the memories filling up the grey matter and taking up so much space I'll never find anywhere for all that Olympic research. In no particular order, these are some of the things from Euro 2008 that will live with me for a long, long time...
Now if you are a TV geek, which I am, there is something magical about television studios. Millions of people are peering into them one moment, seconds later the lights are off and the set is empty, all life gone. It reminds me a bit of the time I saw Basil Brush being packed away in a metal box. Most disturbing!
Well, being the first presenter to transmit live from our fantastic home here in the heart of Vienna was something special, an ambition realised to follow in the footsteps of my broadcasting heroes - and very, very nerve-racking at the same time.
Wow! For someone brought up on a diet of mid-table mediocrity and subsequent relegation from the top flight, I have feasted on the way the managers, teams and fans have approached the tournament. The players have been magnanimous, skillful and honest; the managers passionate, hungry and ambitious; and the fans have reacted as they should.
Turkey and their followers deserve a special mention. I haven't seen such heart since my team did the business over Bayern Munich... that was a long time ago and was well worth the wait.
I was only nine when Marco made 'that' volley look so easy. Although it led to years of frustration as I tried to recreate it against the wall of the electricity sub-station next to my parents' house, it was a watershed moment for me. That was the tournament that told me how special this game can be.
Therefore, to meet the man himself in the build-up to the tournament - and then see his team light the blue touch paper that helped turn this from just another European Championship to a stand-out success - was something of a dream.
I am a big fan of messers O'Neill and Strachan. I think their knowledge and passion for football was evident every time they appeared on screen. They are astutely aware of what's needed to be a success in this game, hence why they're so successful.
I had to listen carefully as Gordon punctuated his thoughts on the game with the odd quip or anecdote for fear of missing something, which I'm sure I invariably did. I didn't get the chance to work with Martin, but I could listen to him talk all evening. We went out for a meal as Russia defeated the Netherlands. We were either watching the game or I was asking him questions. I just hope my inquisitive chatter wasn't too intrusive.
I also hope you've enjoyed the coverage we've provided. We've had a team of really talented editors, researchers, camera men and producers working round the clock to try to make the unique atmosphere here in Austria and Switzerland transfer directly to your living room. I hope you've appreciated their efforts and talents, I certainly have.
I'm still pinching myself that I'm here, sharing a drink with Lawro, a cab with Motty and the show with you guys at home. I might have to leave something behind to avoid an excess charge at the airport, but it won't be my memories, that's for sure.
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