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Rediff.com  » Sports » Euro enters new era

Euro enters new era

June 05, 2008 19:13 IST

There is something of a 'new dawn' feeling about Euro 2008 and it has a lot to do with the absence of some of the great names of European soccer.

Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Fabio Cannavaro, David Trezeguet, Pavel Nedved, Oliver Kahn, Luis Figo, David Beckham and Clarence Seedorf, a dream cast for the ultimate boot advert, will be absent due to retirement, injury, non-selection, non-qualification or sulking.

With younger players such as Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo da Silva and Ryan Babel also ruled out through injury, the tournament is ready for new faces to make their mark.

Zidane and Trezeguet were central to France's rise to the top of the game, scoring the goals that won finals of the World Cup in 1998 and European championship two years later.

Zidane retired after his red card in the 2006 World Cup final but Trezeguet, who missed the decisive penalty in the final shoot-out, was overlooked by Raymond Domenech despite scoring 20 goals in Serie A for Juventus last season.

Cannavaro fully expected to be on duty again but was ruled out this week by an ankle injury while his former defensive partner Alessandro Nesta and striker Francesco Totti both retired last year and Filippo Inzaghi did not make the squad.

Raul, Spain's all-time leading goalscorer with 44 in 102 appearances, was Real Madrid's top scorer in the Liga last season. However, coach Luis Aragones has overlooked him for more than a year and withstood a media campaign to include the former captain.

Figo, at the heart of Portugal's rise to the top echelons of the game, retired after the 2006 World Cup, as did Kahn, whose heroics did so much to get Germany to the final four years earlier, where his mistake then handed Brazil the trophy.

NO NEDVED

Czech Nedved, who helped his team to the European championship final 12 years ago, came out of retirement for the last World Cup but will not be putting his 35-year-old body through another tournament. Rosicky was ruled out through injury.

Seedorf is merely the latest personification of Dutch infighting, having withdrawn from what would have been his fourth European championship after falling out with coach Marco van Basten.

Fellow midfielder Mark van Bommel is another who has taken his ball home in a sulk and the Dutch could also suffer from the injury-absence of Babel.

Croatia are probably the hardest-hit by injury.

Brazilian-born Eduardo scored 10 goals in qualifying before his ankle was shattered while playing for Arsenal, ruling him out of the tournament and severely denting their chances.

Croatia had qualified, along with Russia, ahead of England, whose players will be watching from afar despite supplying nine players to last month's all-English Champions League final.

If nothing else, it means the likes of Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen can enjoy a holiday without having lost yet another penalty shoot-out.

Source:
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