BBC Sport
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help

Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 06:46 GMT 07:46 UK
How Euro 2004 changed football
By Tom Fordyce

Has the face of football changed forever?

With the dust settling on Euro 2004, the lessons of the last three weeks are gradually becoming clearer.

But what exactly have we learned from the Portuguese party?


An obvious point to make when the celebrations in Greece are still going on, but Euro 2004 underlined one of the lessons of the World Cup in 2002 - that the gap between the traditional football powers and the minnow has all but disappeared.

Otto Rehhagel leads the Greek celebrations
Rehhagel and his team celebrate their win

Then, it was Turkey and South Korea who reached the semi-final. At the time it appeared to be a fluke, but the results in Portugal suggest a permanent shift in the balance of power.

It has also been going on for longer that you might think.

Denmark's triumph at the 1992 European Championships is proof that the small nations have been on the rise for some time.

There was also the appearance of Bulgaria in the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup, and Croatia finishing third at the 1998 World Cup.

Back then, the super-powers were still dominating the actual finals. The underdog had his day most often when a one-off generation of talented individuals came to their peak together.

Now, not only are there more and more former also-rans making the running, but the super-powers are stagnating.

Germany have not won a match at the Euro finals since 1996. France have not looked likely winners of anything for four years, while it has been a decade since Italy last flourished.

Greece's win was not the flowering of some golden generation. Yet they matched and then beat France and the Czech Republic and Portugal twice.

Fluke? It was nothing of the sort.


It is possible to draw a line straight from the South Korea of 2002 to today's Greece.

Both sides employed a foreign coach from the old footballing world to marshal and utilise a hard-working group of players who were all competent in the basic skills without being extravagantly talented.

Neither side succeeded by playing an innovative brand of football that was likely to be picked up by other coaches around the world.

This was no Wingless Wonders or Total Football - but who cares? It worked.

The Greek team of 2004 will never be talked about in the same manner as the Hungary's Magical Magyars in the '50s, Brazil 1970 or the Dutch of 1974 and 1978.

It doesn't matter. Their style was simple and unglamorous, but successful.


Ready for a big theory?

Globalisation is not just blanding out your local high street, but also the face of football.

Angelos Charisteas celebrates Greece's winning goal
Charisteas celebrates Greece's winning goal

Just as the same stores and companies can be found on high streets from Southampton to Saitama to San Salvador, so the same style of football is played from Rio to Riga.

Gone are the days when countries played a recognisable brand of football depending on which region of the world they hailed from.

These days, players and coaches travel across the globe to work. Brazilians play in Europe, Dutchmen manage in Korea and Chinese play in north-west England.

Information - on players' strengths and weaknesses, skills and conditioning - flows around the world.

No longer are there many surprise packages by the time you get to the major tournaments. Coaches know how their opponents play because they can watch them on satellite or tape for months in advance.

Cross-pollenisation breeds out the kinks, the variations, the unusual.

The result? South Koreans play like Europeans. Greece play like Germany. Brazil have holding midfielders.

The modern football team is super-fit, can pass the ball around and plays the percentages.

Football is more dominant globally than it has ever been before.

But has it become more humdrum as a result?

Links to more Euro 2004 stories



E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | US Sport | Other Sport | Olympics 2004

Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | Photo Galleries | TV/Radio Listings

Fun and Games | Question of Sport | BBC Sport Plus

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport