- 20 Jun 08, 09:40 AM
I have crossed the border to Austria for the first time in this tournament. It was great to be greeted by glorious sunshine after two weeks of drizzle in Switzerland. Watching it rain in Basel (again!) for the Germany v Portugal match made the meal we had just enjoyed on the banks of the Danube all the more satisfying.
So it's Croatia against Turkey on Friday night for the right to play the Germans in the last four. This should be lively - and noisy. There are huge numbers of Croatians in Vienna, but, from my experience, Turkey's fans make it a point of principle to out-shout anyone, even if they seem hopelessly outnumbered.
Being in Vienna brings me back to the scene of my first ever foreign trip as a commentator. It was 1991 and I had just started working for Capital Radio in London, my first broadcasting job.
Arsenal had put six goals past Austria Vienna at Highbury in a European Cup match and my boss decided I should get a bit of experience by doing the second leg. My boss, by the way, was Jonathan Pearce!
I was a wide-eyed kid in a candy shop. Imagine being paid to go abroad and watch football! Not only that, but I had never even flown before. I couldn't believe my luck.
Plenty of the older hacks on the trip were clearly bored by the prospect of going to a city they had probably visited many times before, especially as it was the second leg of a tie which Arsenal had effectively already won.
For me, though, this was a dream come true ever since I had spent nights enthralled by the voice of Peter Jones on BBC radio, describing European matches on a crackly line from some exotic-sounding location.
The Ernst Happel Stadium was then known as the Prater Stadium and was about half full for a game which Arsenal lost to a late penalty but sailed through on aggregate. Back home, a friend had taped the game on an audio cassette for me. It's probably a good thing that it has long since been lost!
I can honestly say that I am as excited about commentating tonight as I was then. The four commentary teams at this tournament are told which group games we will be covering in advance, but no decision is taken beforehand on who will cover which games beyond the group stages.
To be given one of the two quarter-finals which will be shown live on BBC 1 is an enormous thrill. To be back in Vienna 17 years on from my first foreign game seems somehow appropriate.
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