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As a reporter at Euro 2008 you’re only as good as the team or teams you are covering and after Sweden and Romania’s elimination from the finals, I was the first of the Reuters team to pack my bags and go home.
It was disappointment tinged with relief as the call came after Sweden’s defeat by Russia. Exhaustion was beginning to catch up with me, so my own bed in Brussels was a very attractive offer.
So what did I think about Euro 2008? It was very enjoyable. I met lots of people, learned a lot and crated many memories … oh yes, the soccer was ok too.
Two of the most interesting, but bizarre, lessons I learned were:
Firstly, if you leave the electronic key to your hotel bedroom next to your mobile phone in your pocket, it won’t work when you get back to your hotel at 1am and you have to wake up the owner to let you in.
From a tiny second division Portuguese stadium to the luxurious surroundings and facilities of an Alpine sports centre, Greece are feeling like true defending champions at the Euro 2008.
The atmosphere, however, is not nearly as happy as it was in Portugal.
Four years ago when Greece settled in Vila do Conde, a sleepy seaside town in the estuary of the Ave river north of Porto, noone, including myself would have ever dreamt that a few weeks later coach Otto Rehhagel’s men would be crowned champions of Europe.
That is the deluded view that led me to be excited when I was sent to my first “mixed zone”, where players are available for quick interviews as they walk past reporters when leaving the stadium after a match.