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Germany's progression to the Euro 2008 final might have been billed as a return to old-fashioned values of efficiency and professionalism. But behind that easy stereotype lies a management team that is prepared to explore every possible avenue in the pursuit of excellence.

That has included bringing in Patrick Broome, a specialist yoga instructor and guru to international pop stars Madonna and Sting, to help prepare the squad.

Continue reading "Germans take the flexible approach"

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If Andrei Arshavin has become the star player of Euro 2008, then Guus Hiddink easily walks away with the coach award.

Having already guided Holland and South Korea to World Cup semi-finals and suffered an agonising defeat to eventual winners Italy as Australia boss in 2006, he has now steered Russia to the last four of a major tournament.

To get an idea of what makes the 61-year-old Hiddink tick, I spoke to Arthur Numan, who played under the Dutchman at both Euro 96 and the World Cup two years later. Numan says the problems Hiddink experienced at the European Championship in England 12 years ago were key to his development as a coach.

Continue reading "Hiddink continues to set new standards"

Fletch mentioned in one of his blogs ahead of Euro 2008 how only 7% of the tournament's revenue has been generated by ticket sales, begging the question whether fans are becoming of increasing peripheral importance in international football.

What's important to remember is that without supporters the television companies wouldn't be paying the astronomical sums they do to cover football, be it at club or international level. The thought of Holland versus Italy or France without those colourful and boisterous Dutch fans doesn't bear thinking about...

Continue reading "Do fans need a bigger say?"


Croatia kick off their Euro 2008 campaign on Sunday against co-hosts Austria. Given Slaven Bilic's side humbled England - twice - in the qualifiers, the Croatians will be confident they can reach the knock-out stages of the tournament.

But even before a ball is kicked, Croatia can claim one victory. With a population of just 4.4m, it is the 'smallest' country to reach the Euro 2008 finals. Yet despite lacking the natural resources of, say, Scotland, Croatia have qualified for three European Championships and two World Cups, reaching the semi-finals in 1998, since becoming independent in 1991.

Continue reading "Croatia hungry for success"


Appropriately for the nation where Sigmund Freud spent much of his working life, Austria is displaying a complex psychological response to the task of co-hosting Euro 2008 with Switzerland.

For all those fans seemingly delighted to be staging the event there are plenty more naysayers anguishing about the right of Austria, 92nd in the Fifa rankings, to stage the tournament.

Continue reading "Host nations should be made to qualify"

At the end of April, Italy coach Roberto Donadoni was invited to London to be a guest speaker for Birkbeck College. During his talk, he was asked what he most admired about English football. Pausing for thought, he came up with this answer: "Spirit."

It's not an untypical response from a European reflecting on the English game. Just before England played France in Fabio Capello's second game in charge, I interviewed Gilles Grimandi. The Frenchman said one of the things he had enjoyed most about playing in the Premier League when he was at Arsenal was that English players were more relaxed because they had less time to prepare as there were so many games to be played.

Continue reading "English spirit v European brains"

What's your role at Euro 2008?
Put me down as back office, room number 5040, Television Centre. Not quite Orwell's Room 101, but you get the idea. Just kidding. One of my nom-de-plumes within the four walls of 5040 is Euro, which might give you a clue as to why I've been asked to contribute to this blog. With apologies to all your Eurosceptics out there, I love Europe - literature, food, cinema. But most of all I love European football. Sad I know, but there you go.

Continue reading "About John Sinnott"

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