MatchDay Memory–Football Without Frontiers (Part 2)
Euro 2000 was one of the highlights of my soccer supporter experience, hitting heights of excitement and engagement, not matched until recently with the 2014 World Cup, while producing moments of style and quality over several weeks.
There was no place for Milosevic, Nuno Gomes or players from some of the second tier soccer nations like Turkey and Romania in the UEFA Team of the Tournament. As with most “best teams”, the balance is off, with only Figo providing any width, because Overmars or Zenden were not included.
From a fashion perspective, team kits were dominated by adidas, who made kits for half the teams. Their templates were straight forward, focusing on rib panels that gave contrast to the kits, and very classy with simple collars. They produced one of the great French kits of all time while not making any glaring errors with the others. Nike was slowly building their soccer portfolio and had three teams at Euro 2000. Simple almost to a fault, they chose solid colors with either a V neck or ring collar. Puma was around as well, producing the shirts for the Czech Republic, while Umbro furnished kits for Norway and England.
Denmark played in the tournament wearing Hummel while Italy wore strips made by Kappa. Their shirts were notable for the tight fit and longer sleeves, very unique at the time. Solid white or blue, Kappa logo and Italian shield. Modest but wonderful to look at. Hard to think of a better looking kit. Of course if you looked like Cannavaro or Totti or Del Piero, the look would not be hard to pull off. Seen on the normal fan not so much. This sleeker look eventually took over soccer shirt style and replaced the baggy, wind sock versions of the 90’s. The pendulum has swung the other way now with shirts appearing to almost be painted on (I’m looking at you Puma).
As for what the players were wearing on their feet, shoe companies, particularly Nike and adidas, continued to innovate. Nike pushed on with their Mercurial line, which was launched in 1998 on the feet of Ronaldo. Euro 2000 saw a very light shoe with leather funneling towards a central spot in the toe area.
Adidas developed the Predator series and released the Precision for this competition. The Sneaker Report noted:
Replaceable Traxion studs were added so players could adjust their boots to certain pitch conditions. The fold over tongue now included Velcro to ensure increased stability. The fins, which originally protruded vertically from Craig Johnston’s prototype, were now sectioned off into pinpointed groupings of thin lines. A cool design element of the three stripes thinning out towards the back of the heel was also incorporated.
Finally, I have often wondered if this was the greatest tournament ever. Maybe because it was the first tournament I really watched from start to finish. Maybe because it was that I knew so much about the players and many of them were close to my heart. Maybe because of the stunning goals during the competition.
Miguel Delaney wrote a wonderful piece ahead of Euro 2012 making the argument that the 2000 edition had everything and might have been the greatest international tournament ever. Laying out a premise that went just beyond the high goals per game average, he touched on the drama, the unpredictability and the tactics.
Following on about tactics, Jonathan Wilson explored the innovations of the tournament in Inverting the Pyramid. One of these evolutions was the lone striker becoming more of the norm, with this player joined by attacking players supported by strong, hard tackling midfielders. France moved on from the Christmas Tree of the World Cup to a defensive solid yet attacking 4-2-3-1 with Viera providing the dynamism used to get additional attackers on the field.
In the end I thoroughly enjoyed the competition. Like my time commitment to the 2014 World Cup, due to a sabbatical from work, I was able to dedicate time to watch nearly every match, so I had a sense of overarching story lines and tactical nuances and team dynamics. Not every tournament hits the high notes but when they do, nothing is better.
Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.