x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Euro 2012: Montolivo and Walesa choose their sides, and Nasri is sorry

Riccardo Montolivo and Lech Walesa may be rooting for opposite sides and Portuguese great Eusebio is on his way home after his stay at a Polish hospital.

Riccardo Montolivo of Italy is German on his mother's side, but make no mistake on which side he will be rooting for.
Riccardo Montolivo of Italy is German on his mother's side, but make no mistake on which side he will be rooting for.

Montolivo unwavering

Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo has the German flag stitched into his boots, but he says he has put aside that half of his heritage for the semi-finals tonight. Montolivo, who was born in Italy to a German mother and an Italian father, speaks German fluently. "It's, for sure, a special match," he said. "I spent every summer in Germany until I was 15 with my grandparents near Hamburg, and I'm still in touch with many friends there. But I feel Italian."


Walesa has solidarity

Lech Walesa, Poland's former president, told a newspaper that he switched allegiance to Germany "for the first time in my life" in the quarter-finals, but he is sure who he will support the rest of the way. He praised Germany's "professorial" style while the Italians played "nice, so spontaneously". Walesa, 68, whose Solidarity movement of the 1980s helped end Communist rule in Poland, will attend tonight's Germany-Italy match in Warsaw.


Nasri Tweets apology

France forward Samir Nasri said he regrets any upset caused to French fans and especially children by the strong words he used against a journalist after last Saturday's loss to Spain. The 25-year-old Manchester City star, who launched into a tirade of abuse when he was leaving the mixed zone, said on Twitter that his argument was with certain journalists and he would explain more when he felt it was appropriate. "There are too many different accounts going around at the moment," he explained. "I would like to let supporters, especially children, know that I sincerely regret that my words may have shocked them."


Capello told them so

Fabio Capello was not surprised by England's exit on penalties against Italy. The former England boss, largely un-missed by those he left behind when he resigned earlier this year, said the players were too tired after a long season. "They arrive cooked ... They never stop playing," he said. "I told them, but unfortunately the English fixture list is a sacred cow."


Eusebio heads home

Portugal legend Eusebio, who was hospitalised in Poland with high-blood pressure since the weekend, was discharged on Wednesday and is heading home. Eusebio was in Poland as an ambassador for the Portugal Football Federation and was taken to hospital on Saturday evening after falling ill.


US tunes in

Television ratings for the quarter-finals were up 31 per cent from four years ago in the United States. English-language coverage on ESPN averaged 1.92 million viewers, compared with 1.46 million in 2008. Sunday's Italy-England quarter-final was watched by 2.97 million people in the US.


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