The Euros have unleashed their magic over the nation of football and England have so far ensured the absence of grey clouds over moods. A totally different situation in Poland where their elimination not only saddens me, as their efforts were phenomenal , but takes a fair amount of excitement from the tournament now that Ukraine has also seen the exit door. Racism has been occupying the headlines as predicted and it seems like the thin line between patriotism and jingoism continues to shrink, while the world comes to term with the reality over states of behavioural modernity in some parts of our planet… yes, even in 2012.
All that said the game still in my mind seems to be the clash of titans, delivered in style with a bang at the Metalist Stadium last Wednesday when the mighty Orange faced Germany. The Dutch players unfortunately had an early flight home and most probably to the relief of their respective clubs’ managers: being some of the finest players on the globe. Just like Jamie Redknapp, the Dutch team found a special place in my heart since the days of Van Basten and unfortunately for Van Persie and his troop, they could not stand up to the occasion. Could their luck, defence and strong opposition have played against them in this particular tournament?
As expected the German team is still glittering since the last world cup. The young players have developed since and their football under Low’s management has not only proven to be scary to their opposition but also exquisite to any football fan. Mario Gomez’s muscular presence up front gave the German side an early and well deserved rush of confidence by winning and scoring all the goals during their first two encounters. Even if renowned as a poacher, his finishing abilities were on display to prove critics wrong. It seems like Mario Gomez rises up to the occasion: especially if it’s a matter of national pride, reminiscent of a certain “Big Game Hunter” who recently left Chelsea, Didier Drogba. Comparison to the former Chelsea forward also came from Gomez’s compatriot and colleague, Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Clearly, The Mario Gomez show seems to be only starting, with “Die Mannschaft” making its way through to the quarter-finals, hugely helped by the German-Spanish striker. Premier league fans will most certainly have heard of Gomez but following him closely is not a given to everyone in England as the Premier League seems heavy enough to keep the fire in most football hearts heavily fuelled.
Mario Gomez was born in Riedlingen , and is of Spanish and German heritage from his father and mother respectively. Having both citizenships he somehow chose to play for the German national side being in the youth team from the age of 17. In 2007, his first inclusion in the national team materialized and victory followed over Switzerland with the match ending at 3 – 1 with Gomez scoring his first goal for the side. Two goals also followed on his second cap in a Euro 2008 qualifier against San Marino where he replaced Kevin Kuranyi to seal the match at the final score of 6 – 0.
Recently, his contribution and dedication somehow have been unappreciated, judging his criticism from German fans. Gomez, renowned in Germany for being out-spoken over social matters, seem to have made the decision to share his pain and frustration to the world by revealing how he elicits more admiration in Spain that in a country he calls home, namely, Germany. Talking to the daily mail, Gomez said: “I know from my Real Madrid team-mates Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira and my family in Andalucia that people look up to me in Spain.” Low, a tactical genius orchestrating the German troop, gave support to his striker, asking him show mental strength in overlooking criticism.
Criticism somehow seems to spark different reactions in individuals. It appears that we are not all built the same psychologically and the prediction of behavioural effect does not always embrace accuracy. The thought of Mario Balotelli curiously comes to mind. A great player, a genius of a finisher and a definite crowd entertainer, the black Italian similarly was faced with discrimination from an early age and more recently at the Euros with the “banana-throwing” saga. Whether it was a humoristic approach or an emotional wit, the character from Manchester declared that he would kill any one throwing the dreaded yellow fruit at him: which to me was one of the funniest comments I’ve stumbled upon for a while.
Racism, an issue that the UEFA need to look seriously into, resurfaced before the eyes of the world as a plague believed to have been on its way out, yet, sadly enough, seems to be showing signs of resurgence, infecting the minds of the perceptively weaker ones. It is hard to believe, yet sad and true, as acts of primitive barbarism on display at one of the greatest sporting events on the planet show the negativity still present in the minds of many. Where the world could benefit from mutual understanding and unity, Euro 2012 viewers have unfortunately had to spectate unjustified acts of jingoism, mistaken for patriotism by confused fans. Could it all boil down to a lack of cultural exposure or simply put education that in turn led to a very short and shallow perceptive capability?
To mon ami, Michel Platini, if you happen to be sipping some wine or maybe just snacking on buttered almond croissant, footballing matters need your serious attention. “Veuillez lire ceci Monsieur Platini, car vos mots n’ont toujours pas été digéré. Et vos actions restent à voir!” (Just a message to Platini that helps my inner peace. Better out that in they say!)