If you didn’t see all of the Euro 2008 tournament then you can get a decent picture of what it was like by looking at some of the quotes made by the people taking part, and measuring what they said against the actual reality.
Let’s look at a few of the quotes attributed to some of the main players:
“This time I want to show what I am able to do in a great competition – I can be better than during Euro 2000.” French striker Nicolas Anelka before his totally anonymous performance against Romania, being left out against Holland and a late ineffective substitute appearance against Italy. He went home after that. I can’t remember how he played in 2000, but if he was better this time then I can’t really imagine how bad he must have been eight years ago!
“Villa is a brilliant player but so is Torres when he’s got space.” Spain coach Luis Aragones contemplating his embarrassment of striking riches. Everyone before the tournament was talking about Torres but Villa opened his account with a hat-trick in the first game. Torres had the last laugh though, scoring the only goal in the final.
“I just love playing in all white.” Cristiano Ronaldo doing his best to ensure that Sir Alex kicks something at him when he gets back to Manchester. He was quite clearly being deliberately mischievous about Real Madrid’s white kit.
“Maybe he wants to show he is a big boy and has the guts to do it, I don’t know.” Leo Beenhakker, Poland coach after English referee Howard Webb gave Austria an injury time penalty to take a point. I think it is fair to say that Beenhakker was a bit cross! Poland didn’t make it through to the second stage but then neither did Mr Webb!
“The sport of football is not always about justice: when the referee decides something, it is like he is God.” Austria coach Josef Hickersberger seeing the incident in the same way, but being a little less cross!
“As the prime minister I have to be balanced and collected. But last night I was speaking very differently about the whole thing, I wanted to kill.” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacting to Webb’s penalty decision in a balanced and collected way.
“We also wanted to show that the criticism after the first match was uncalled for.”
Croatia midfield man Modric after victory over Germany gave them six points out of six. I wish England were as bad as Croatia!!
“Looking back at the match we deserved to lose. We were unable to play our combinations or play fluidly.” German coach Joachim Low agrees with Modric that Croatia didn’t deserve criticism. He couldn’t have expected what was to follow.
“Certain players did not do what they had to do. The players have to show themselves worthy of wearing the French shirt. Big players have to know how to get over things like this and to come back.” Raymond Domenech trying a novel way to raise team morale prior to the decider against Italy.
“We didn’t have the necessary luck and the Spaniards showed more alertness. But we wanted to leave in a dignified fashion and we achieved that.” Greece coach Otto Rehhagel after seeing his defending champions beaten in all three of their games. What would have been undignified?
“We had a lot of courage, had good combinations, moved well without the ball – all the things that we’ve done well in the past we did.” Low seeing a different Germany after their victory over Portugal. I’m sure he never had any doubts!
“I failed and I wasn’t able to achieve the target the federation had set me, qualifying for the semis. Germany were better at the important moments.” Scolari being honest and filling the Chelsea fans with eager anticipation.
“The only positive thing about this season is that it’s over.” Petr Cech taking his mistake well and looking forward to a break.
“We have become one of the great footballing nations. Our people can rejoice. And if our people are proud of us then we are proud of them.” Turkey coach Fatih Terim reacting proportionately to their penalty shoot-out victory over Croatia.
“I thought that it was finished, that we had won and then in a flash this fantastic goal by Semih. After that, it was the drama of penalties. Oh well life goes on. Tomorrow is another day. We will now get back into the groove in the World Cup qualifiers.” Croatia’s Slaven Bilic in philosophical mood after the same game.
“I don’t want to use big words but it is almost a miracle. I’m so proud of these guys. Physically, technically and tactically we outplayed the Dutch and it is a huge achievement for us.” Russia’s amazing coach Guus Hiddink summing up what we all thought.
“The Russians played a lot better than we did and deserved their victory. I can live with the indisputable fact that they were better than us.” Marco Van Basten honestly assessing the quarter-final.
“I would like to congratulate first of all my players for their remarkable behaviour and maintaining their morale during the match. It was very difficult as the Italians closed down all the spaces, which made it difficult to play our natural game.” Spain coach Luis Aragones trying to politely say what we all thought about the Italian display.
“We did everything we were capable of, but everyone is free to judge for themselves. I was satisfied with our run. I think the players should leave here with their heads held high. They gave everything they had. we’ve simply got to live with this. Tomorrow is the start of a new era.” Roberto Donadoni seeing things a little differently.
“I congratulate Germany for their win and wish them success for the final but I am proud of my players. We were able to show the world what a good team we are. Sometimes when we win you could ask yourself if it was fair too. This was the result and we have to accept it. I think we were the better side.” Turkey coach Fatih Terim after seeing his side unluckily defeated by the Germans.
“Efficiency, this is what we had today.” Germany’s Joachim Low after the same game. That’s not like the Germans!!
“We lost to a really good team from Spain. Spain were excellent and deserved their victory. I am disappointed by the result, but I am proud of my team.” Russia’s excellent coach Guus Hiddink accepting that he had taken them as far as he could.
“We weren’t doing very well in the first half against Russia but in the second half we were able to play more freely and rediscover our game” Luis Aragones playing down the brilliance of that second half performance.
Raymond Domenech was the star man for ridiculous quotes really. I particularly like one attributed to him prior to this tournament:
“You always lose when your opponents score and you don’t.”
What a shame that he didn’t pass that piece of wisdom on to his players before their games over the last couple of weeks.