ANA MAGALHAES / AIPS** in OLOMOUC: History has been made for the Portuguese football with the under-21s reaching the final of UEFA Euro for only the second time.
The other occasion was in 1994 – lost on a penalty shoot-out against Italy – achieved by the so-called Golden Generation. Luís Figo, Rui Costa, Jorge Costa and João Pinto were some of the players who wrote their names in that hall of fame.
Naturally, the emotion of the Portuguese team after the shock 5-0 victory over Germany was pure joy and pride.
The coach Rui Jorge appeared in the press conference in a very serene mood but it was easy to detect the emotion in his eyes. He said. “This is an historical moment. My team come through the final with all the merit in the world. I feel tremendously proud of working with these players.”
The final score was unexpected and the Portuguese manager praised his players’ attitude, leaving the tactical side to a secondary role.
Rui Jorge said: “The secret of this victory was in the intensity and passion applied by my players. We watched hours and hours of opponent’s videos, of course, but that’s just a little part of the job. Besides saying that we want to win, we must be prepared to do it.
“It’s hard for my players to see their colleagues having fun on their vacations, getting fit for the next season. Yet here they are, giving all they have, playing every three days, after a long series of matches in their clubs. An attitude that started in the very first day of our preparation.”
Rui Jorge also underlined the respect given by Germany despite come pre-match comments for their players. He said: “In all the honestly, I don’t think that the German players had devalued us. They knew that would face a strong team.”
For the players the emotion was much the same.
The official best player of the match, William Carvalho, stressed the consistency of the squad. The midfielder said: “The coach asked for an almost perfect performance and we did it. All the sectors of our squad were very good. Now we have to put the cherry on the top of the cake and win the final.”
The scorer of the second goal, Ricardo Pereira, admitted his surprise at the final score. He said: “Not even in our best dreams any of us imagined a result like this. We were confident, we knew we could win, but we certainly didn’t expect this.”
Sérgio Oliveira, the team captain kept some words for Germany. He said: “They are a great team, who fought through all the game and should be congratulated for achieving the semi-final. The best way we have to respect an opponent is by giving our best and we did it.”
The player also saved a compliment for coach Rui Jorge. Sérgio said: “He is a great leader, whose ideas are very clearly.”