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London - 3,174 miles travelled

Upon landing in London on Monday evening virtually the first thing I noticed was an advert featuring a huge quote by Samuel Johnson.

It said: "By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show."

But football did not feature in his dictionary and he definitely didn't reckon on Euro 2008.

I had a dream about the tournament last night, I was in the press box and Arsene Wenger was sat a couple of desks away commentating for French television.

But I awoke this morning not only to the reassuring presence of my wife next to me but to the reality that Euro 2008 is all over.

Continue reading "Farewell Euro 2008"

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The most gifted and complete team won Euro 2008 - and for that I am truly thankful. I thought at one stage it might be the Dutch before I briefly flirted with the idea that Russia may well exceed expectations. But ultimately there can be no arguing with Spain's status as worthy champions.

It could have been so different had Miroslav Klose capitalised on Sergio Ramos's awful pass to Carles Puyol after just three minutes but destiny ensured victory was with the deserved.

In defeating Germany here at the Ernst Happel Stadium on this balmy June evening, Spain not only ended 44 years of international failure and frustration but delivered a gift rich in significance to those who subscribe to a brand of football that truly is the beautiful game.

Continue reading "Spain are worthy winners"


Something's got to give at the Ernst Happel Stadium on Sunday. Germany's mental rigour comes up against a Spanish outfit that is widely regarded as the most complete team at Euro 2008.

And when the losers trudge off, beaten and vanquished, they can console themselves with the thought that they are far from alone in their abject disappointment. Both countries are at fever pitch as the final moves ever closer, with the match dominating television, radio and newspaper coverage.

Continue reading "Final expectations at fever pitch"


Time is ticking for Vienna's Panini football card collectors. They meet outside the Technisches Museum, every Friday afternoon, old women trading with schoolchildren, long lists of indecipherable numbers in their hand. What will they do next Friday?

The clock is also running down for touts in the centre of Vienna. One walked past me in the rain and said: "Tickets?" I said that I was alright thanks. "I'm ******* buying not selling," came the reply. I guess I should have read the sign, written in several languages, that he was holding.

Continue reading "Platini basks in Euro success"

Vienna - 2,411 miles travelled

As I walked out of the St Jacob-Park media centre in Basel for the final time on Wednesday evening, a wave of melancholy swept over me. Euro 2008 is over in Switzerland, the party has finished and it is time to move on.

A rather fearsome woman who works on security, screening journalists as they enter the stadium, summed it all up. I asked her how she felt about it all and she simply replied: "Game over."

Continue reading "I'm going to miss the Swiss"


It just gets better and better. Are there any limits to the joy, skill, exhilaration and drama that Euro 2008 can serve up?

Wednesday's semi-final at St Jakob-Park was a stone-cold classic. Let's start by applauding Turkey.

Continue reading "Basel serves up a thriller"

Basel - 1,883 miles travelled

German newspaper Bild and Turkish counterpart Hurriyet both carried the same headline on Monday.

It read: "Let friendship win".

And wherever you look, all the right people are making all the right noises ahead of Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final between the two nations here in Basel.

Continue reading "Let football be the winner"


My surname is Fletcher so it comes as no surprise that I have always been known as "Fletch". A given, you might say.

The problems started when my dad got a dog for Christmas several years ago. Not so much the fact that a pet entered his life - it has given him nothing less than the greatest of joy - more the fact that my family decided to call it "Fletch".

The westie in question is a touch excitable and I'm often faced with a chorus of "Fletch, Fletch come here" whenever I visit my parents now. It can all become very confusing and tiring.

I only mention this because I recently dreamt I was taking Fletch for a walk. Normally I've a pretty good recollection of my dreams, but this is the first I can remember during Euro 2008.

Continue reading "Football withdrawal kicks in"

Grindelwald - 1,751 miles travelled

After the Netherlands had breezed through the Group of Death at Euro 2008, Dutch fan Will Henke and his travelling companions promptly booked an apartment in Vienna for the final week of this magnificent tournament.

Henke saves all year so that he can follow the oranje at major tournaments. It is prudent planning - and just as well because the cost of following your team is no laughing matter.

Continue reading "Dutch fans left counting the cost"


Russia must now be regarded as major contenders at Euro 2008 after a breathtaking quarter-final victory over a Dutch side that had swept all before them in the so-called "Group of Death".

Andrei Arshavin capped off another sublime display with the decisive third goal to further boost his burgeoning reputation, while the result is another triumph for coach Guus Hiddink, who has honed a side that beat his countrymen at their own game.

Continue reading "Russia look the real deal"

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