A Rolls Royce of a sweeper in an equally majestic West Germany side, Franz Beckenbauer looks back on the team he captained to 1972 UEFA European Championship glory. ‘Der Kaiser’ reflects on the influence of coach Helmut Schön, the goals of Gerd Müller and the disappointment of falling at the last hurdle of their title defence in 1976.Why was the team from 1972 so good?Franz Beckenbauer: It took time for us to find each other; when the 1970 World Cup was over it was time for changes. The big players from that team stopped and it was time to bring in new ones. I think the reason for the success came from the way the team was put together – six players came from Bayern, three from Mönchengladbach.This team came together and I think the game at Wembley [a 3-1 win in the first leg of the quarter-finals] was very important. That was the first time that a German team won on English soil – it was historic and obviously very good for our confidence. We believed that when you can beat England at Wembley, you can beat anybody.You were the captain for several years – do you think the 1972 team was the best?Beckenbauer: Yes,cheap mlb jerseys wholesale, but also I have to say the 1972 European Championship was not as difficult to win. We had one difficult match and that was the quarter-final in England. In the final tournament there were only four teams,cheap wholesale mlb jerseys, today you have 16. It has developed in a way that nobody ever imagined back then.What did Helmut Schön mean to you and to the German national team?Beckenbauer: Helmut Schön was like a father to all of us. In the modern football world, something like that is not really possible. Helmuth Schön was above everything an incredible human being. Everybody liked him – he was there for all the players. Nowadays a coach simply doesn’t have the time to worry about his players in that way. The secret was that everybody wanted to play in the national team because everybody knew that they would be taken care of by Helmut Schön.There are lot of stories about Gerd Müller – could you please tell us about him?Beckenbauer:Gerd Müller was a phenomenon – he scored so many goals. Thank God he played for Bayern and the German national team. Without him, I don’t think we would have won either the European Championship or the World Cup; you need players like him. He understood better than anybody how to score goals – he can thank his pace for that. At training I played against him and I never had a chance. We knew his moves but still we could not stop him – that’s how fast he was.What do you remember of the penalty shoot-out defeat by Czechoslovakia in the 1976 final?Beckenbauer: After winning the European Championship in ’72 and the World Cup in ’74, the team was a little on the wane; Gerd Müller and [Wolfgang] Overath had stopped,buy cheap nhl jerseys, so some of the big players were not there anymore in 1976. That left a vacuum which nobody could fill. Who could take over after Gerd Müller? Nobody. The same with Overath.So, we were quite happy even to make it to the tournament and of course even more to the final. We defeated Yugoslavia in the semi-finals after extra time and then we were in the final – the first one ever to be decided on penalties. Before then there was a replay in the case of a draw. We were not prepared at all for penalties – we were not expecting that, so we lost.
The 1964 UEFA European Football Championship brought Spain their first major honour as the hosts overcame holders the USSR in the Santiago Bernabéu final in Madrid.An older head in a youthful team, 1960 Ballon d’Or winner Luis Suárez had just helped FC Internazionale Milano clinch the first of back-to-back European Champion Clubs’ Cups when he was called upon to inspire La Roja from midfield.With the likes of Alfredo Di Stéfano and Francisco Gento omitted from the squad the pressure was on, but former FC Barcelona midfielder Suárez rose to the occasion, buoyed by home support he still recalls with “great joy”. “There was never a moment where the fans criticised any of the players,cheap wholesale jerseys from china,” he tells UEFA.com,cheap houston texans jerseys, “and that helped a lot.”Press play to watch the full interview.
Napoli suffered a major blow to their Serie A title hopes following a 2-1 home defeat by Udinese Calcio.The Partenopei, who had won their last four league matches, were undone by strikes from Gökhan Inler (55) and former Napoli forward Germán Denis (61). Although Giuseppe Mascara pulled a goal back in added time, Napoli’s night was summed up when Edinson Cavani’s penalty was saved by Samir Handanovič.Napoli are six points adrift of leaders AC Milan,cheap nhl jerseys free shipping, with Udinese − who had Maurizio Domizzi dismissed late on − a point behind fourth-placed S.S. Lazio. Eduardo Reja’s side closed to within a victory of FC Internazionale Milano after putting four past Calcio Catania, Hernanes (40), Stefano Mauri (56), Sergio Floccari (78) and Mauro Zárate (89) on target in Sicily. Juventus, however, missed out on the chance to leapfrog AS Roma into sixth following a goalless draw at ACF Fiorentina.Brescia Calcio’s relegation worries increased following a 3-0 defeat by Genoa CFC, while ten-man AC Chievo Verona, in twelfth, beat Bologna FC 2-0. Elsewhere,cheap wholesale authentic jerseys, US Lecce scored in added time to draw 3-3 with Cagliari Calcio and AC Cesena are out of the relegation zone thanks to a 1-0 victory against bottom club AS Bari.ResultsStandingsPhoto gallery
Galatasaray AŞ have signed Turkish international left-back Çağlar Birinci from relegated Denizlispor in a deal worth €1.5m, with Murat Akça,cheap jerseys wholesale, Erhan Şentürk, Sadrettin Fırat Kocaoğlu and Semih Kaya all going in the other direction. Serdar Eylik has also joined the first division side on a one-year loan.Çağlar, 24, has agreed a three-year contract after admitting that while “there were other interested clubs I felt closer to Galatasaray”. The defender has become much sought-after since his breakthrough season of 2007/08, earning an international debut against Belgium in September 2008. He added two more caps last month on Turkey’s tour to the United States.Only three years ago Çağlar was playing in the lower divisions of Turkish football. A product of Trabzonspor AŞ’s academy, he turned professional at second-tier Orduspor in 2004 before switching to Bakırköyspor in the fourth level. Rave reviews earned a move to Turkish Süper Lig side Denizlispor in summer 2006,personalized nfl jerseys cheap, though he was immediately sent out on loan.
UEFA President Michel Platini has visited the National Centre for Women’s Football (Nationale Zentrum für Frauenfußball) in St Polten, Austria, at the invitation of the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB).The women’s football academy provides world-class facilities for girls to reach the top level in the female game and is partly funded by HatTrick, UEFA’s investment programme for national associations.Michel Platini said: “I’m always happy to see UEFA’s investment in action and the Austrian FA has done a great job here. This centre will support girls playing at grassroots level to take the crucial step to reach the A team.”Austria’s National Centre for Women’s Football forms part of the national association’s talent development programme and aims to help with the transition from youth to professional football. It offers intensive training in tactical and technical excellence. The young athletes’ personal development is also supported and actively promoted. In addition to top-class football training, girls studying at the academy have the chance to continue their studies. The higher education subjects on offer include sports science,cheap philadelphia eagles jerseys, sports medicine and psychology.Women’s football continues to grow in importance and numbers – to date, UEFA counts more than 1.8 million registered female footballers in Europe. UEFA’s flagship women’s club competition, the UEFA Women’s Champions League, reaches the knockout stages this month. The Austrian club playing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this season, SV Neulengbach, start their campaign on 28 September. The 2011/12 final will be played in Munich on 17 May.UEFA’s continued commitment to women’s football is notably highlighted through its HatTrick initiative. In December 2010, the UEFA Executive Committee decided to allocate €100,000 to each of UEFA’s 53 member national associations per year between 2012 and 2016 via HatTrick for developing the female game.Moreover, last term four national associations were selected to receive €50,000 in funding as part of a women’s football development pilot scheme. This has already led to the Republic of Ireland setting up a national women’s league and Portugal staging a women’s football day. Following the initial success of the scheme, it was decided to renew the operation for the 2011/12 season,cheap texas rangers jerseys, increasing the availability of funding to 40 national associations.
When Ivan Perišić arrived at UEFA EURO 2012 it was expected he would provide cover for Ivan Rakitić on the left wing.Yet two days before Croatia’s Group C opener against the Republic of Ireland, coach Slaven Bilić shuffled his pack,cheap denver broncos jerseys, moving skipper Darijo Srna to right-back and switching Rakitić from his usual left-midfield berth to the opposite flank and the position vacated by the FC Shakhtar Donetsk player.The upshot was that Perišić suddenly had a place in the starting XI for the encounter with Giovanni Trapattoni’s side, and he did not disappoint. One of the liveliest performers on the Municipal Stadium Poznan pitch, the 23-year-old showcased his shooting ability on a couple of occasions as well as laying on Mario Mandžukić’s second, Croatia’s third goal, with an inviting cross.”I could even have scored myself,” the Borussia Dortmund midfielder told UEFA.com. “I had two shots. The first was well saved and,wholesale cheap nfl jerseys, as for the other, I really thought I would score in a situation like that, but my shot wasn’t good,” added Perišić, who hit seven goals in the Bundesliga in 2011/12 but has yet to score for his country.All in all, though, Perišić’s major tournament debut could not have gone much better. “It was my dream to play for Croatia and this was my first match in such a big competition,” said the former Club Brugge KV player, who made his international bow in March last year and appeared six times in qualifying.”I had extra motivation because in my last few matches for Croatia I didn’t show what I can really do,official nfl jerseys wholesale,” he added. “I still need some time to adapt to this team and I hope my game will improve in the forthcoming matches.”As for Bilić’s decision to alter his lineup, Perišić said: “During the preparations for EURO we have been changing our tactics and players, and the coach decided to pick this system. He got it right and we can all be happy that he selected this one. This is the Croatia our fans want to see. If we can maintain this level of play we can do something good, but if we don’t we won’t have as much chance against Italy and Spain. We need to keep the same motivation and team spirit as against the Irish and anything will be possible.”
Ten-man FC Barcelona overcame Real Sporting de Gijón to cut Real Madrid CF’s lead at the top to seven points, with Los Merengues in action on Sunday against RCD Espanyol.Barcelona’s Andrés Iniesta grabbed his first league goal of the season to open the scoring three minutes before the break. However, Gerard Piqué saw red early in the second half (46) and the visitors looked to be in the ascendancy when David Barral equalised (49) shortly afterwards. Sporting Gijón failed to make the most of their numerical advantage,cheap miami heat jerseys, though, and they were punished as Seydou Keita (79) and Xavi Hernández (87) earned Josep Guardiola’s side maximum points.Málaga CF are up to fourth place,cheap mlb jerseys for sale, three points behind Valencia CF,wholesale cheap mlb jerseys, after coming from behind to beat Getafe CF by the same scoreline. Second-half strikes by Eliseu (57), Jérémy Toulalan (82) and Santiago Cazorla (90+2) sealed the win. Rayo Vallecano de Madrid were even further behind against Real Racing Club, but cancelled out their two-goal deficit with a Michu double (45, 64) and efforts by Raûl Tamudo (67) and Piti (72). RCD Mallorca and CA Osasuna, meanwhile, shared a 1-1 draw as did Club Atlético de Madrid and Sevilla FC in the day’s late game.
New Olympique de Marseille coach Didier Deschamps has taken his tally of summer signings to nine by bringing in FC Lorient midfielder Fabrice Abriel and former Spain striker Fernando Morientes.’Motivated’ Abriel, 30,cheap nba jerseys for sale, arrives on a three-year contract for a fee of €2.5m,cheap nfl jerseys free shipping, while Morientes – who helped AS Monaco FC reach the 2004 UEFA Champions League final under Deschamps – returns to France as a free agent on a one-year deal after scoring 20 Liga goals in 66 games over three seasons for Valencia CF. “I know Morientes well,” said Deschamps. “He has always scored goals and is fresh and motivated to play at the highest level.”ConsistencyAbriel will bring some class and consistency to the Marseille midfield, having missed just three top-flight games in the last three campaigns for Lorient. “The move was driven by the competitions we’ll play in this season, particularly the European Cup,” said former EA Guingamp player Abriel. The southern club,wholesale nhl jerseys, last season’s runners-up in Ligue 1, will enter the UEFA Champions League in the group stage.
Defender Cristian Molinaro is “looking forward to the Bundesliga” after agreeing a six-month loan switch from Juventus to UEFA Champions League first knockout round hopefuls VfB Stuttgart.Problem areaWith just five Serie A appearances under his belt this term, Molinaro moves to fill the left-back void at Stuttgart left by Ludovic Magnin’s winter move to FC Zürich,wholesale cheap nfl jerseys, especially with Arthur Boka on African Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast. Molinaro,wholesale mlb jerseys, who did not feature in La Vecchia Signora’s UEFA Champions League campaign, joins a Stuttgart side unbeaten under Christian Gross but still just three places off the foot of the Bundesliga table following a disappointing start to the domestic season.False position”I am looking forward to the Bundesliga,” said Molinaro, whose contract with the Bianconeri runs until 2013. “Stuttgart are not where they belong in the Bundesliga. The team are better than their current ranking.” Stuttgart host European champions FC Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie on 23 February and visit Camp Nou on 17 March.
Liverpool FC have moved quickly to replace Xabi Alonso by completing the signing of midfielder Alberto Aquilani from AS Roma for a reported fee of €23.5m.Ankle operationThe 25-year-old has penned a five-year contract with the Premier League club and will,buy cheap nfl jerseys, when fit, help fill the void created by Alonso’s move to Real Madrid CF earlier this week. Aquilani, who scored nine goals in 102 Serie A appearances for Roma,wholesale nfl jerseys, has not played since 11 March when he featured in the Giallorossi’s penalty shoot-out loss to Arsenal FC in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League and he is not expected to be fully fit for another four to eight weeks following an ankle operation in May.’Rehabilitation’A statement on the Liverpool website read: “He will continue his rehabilitation under the guidance of our medical team.” Capped eleven times by Italy, Aquilani becomes Liverpool’s second major summer acquisition following Glen Johnson’s move from Portsmouth FC.