The morning after the night before. Time seemed to be passing slower than normal. I kept looking at the clock on the bottom right hand corner of my screen. It was almost 11am. ‘What’s bloody taking them so long?’ I pondered. My Microsoft Outlook was in a state of constant refreshment. But, alas finally, they arrived. The first batch of Thierry Henry related e-mails landed in my inbox. After John Terry’s Moscow misery in May of 2008, there were a bucket-full of mails jeering Terry’s misfortune at 8:15am the following morning. Whatever the reason for the delay, we all chuckled heartily at the various images of Henry with giant hands, no hands, and his Wikipedia page being ‘updated’. However the reality was, Ireland were out of the World Cup. Or were they?
In the dying moments of Barcelona’s Champions League triumph in May, coach Pep Guardiola made a substitution to run down the clock. Andreas Iniesta was the player sacrificed. The diminutive midfielder produced a stirring display on the night, along with partner in crime Xavi. Both tormented the Manchester United midfielder to such an extent, Darren Fletcher was almost missed. His replacement was yet another graduate from the Catalan’s outstanding academy, Perdito. It was a surprising choice, as the young forward only appeared in sporadically during their historic treble-winning season. However, one third of the way through the 2009/2010 campaign, he is 2nd in the Barca scoring-charts, just behind a certain Lionel Messi. This season, he has grown into Pedro.
Euro 2008 was a hugely enjoyable tournament on a number of levels. Viewers across the globe were spoilt with a month of delightful, positive football. Spain were indisputably the best team on show, and deserved winner of their first major championship in 34 years. However, a personal highlight was the re-emergence of Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic, after he had spent most of 2007 recovering from 2 kidney transplants. It is a tribute to his strength of character and determination that he is playing the game at the highest level, and this summer moved to Premier League Bolton Wanderers. Since promotion in 2001, Bolton have searched Europe and beyond for firepower, with varying levels of success. The Hamburg-born striker will hope to enjoy a more successful tenure in gainful employment at the Reebok Stadium then these forwards endured: