x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Euro 2012: Now it is time for a well-earned rest

The finish line is now in sight for the people of this country who have done so much to welcome their guests.

The entertainers have felt the heat of the pace of the tournament.
The entertainers have felt the heat of the pace of the tournament.

KIEV // Woody Woodpecker was looking a little world weary, while it had all become too much for Bugs Bunny, who had to have a sit down and a cigarette in one of the cafes lining Kiev's Independence Square.

While the football is getting set for its climax at the Olympic Stadium tonight, the finish line is now in sight for the people of this country who have done so much to welcome their guests.

Like Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Spain's dynamic midfield duo who have played 5,000 minutes of football this season, those people gainfully employed in making this tournament work have been running on fumes lately.

Woody, Bugs, as well as the scores of volunteers and Euro officials have definitely made hay while sun has shined.

But, from the look of most of those milling around the centre of Ukraine's capital city yesterday, they are looking forward to a break, too.

"Ukraine has showed that we are part of the European home," Grigory Surkis, the president of the Ukrainian FA, said at a press conference yesterday.

"Ukraine's future generations will also benefit, because the tournament leaves us with wonderful infrastructures."

Some doubted whether it would turn out like this, but Ukrainians can be justly proud of the way they have welcomed Europe over the past month.

The rest of the continent was well represented in Kiev yesterday. Germany, oddly and maybe presumptuously, were still the best represented on the streets of this city, but tonight's participants have supporters here, too.

The Spanish contingent are the most visible, while the relatively few Italians who have been able to make the unexpected trip for the final, have also picked up a few like-minded residents of Kiev to bolster their number.

For Michel Platini, the Uefa president, yesterday provided the chance to say "I told you so" to those who doubted the wisdom of staging this tournament here. And he took the chance gleefully.

The tournament will be staged in France in 2016, and Platini said his compatriots have a tough act to follow.

"Euro 2012 has left the best legacy that we could have ever produced and my overriding feeling today is one of pride," the former France player said.

"The Polish and Ukrainian people have showed their enthusiasm, and they have set a very high bar for the future which will be difficult to match.

"The tournament is leaving a very significant legacy in the two countries.

"What I have seen from people in Poland and Ukraine, is the great pride they have had in how they have organised this tournament. They have been proud to show how football also exists in eastern Europe."

pradley@thenational.ae

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