UEFA football development advisor Dejan Stanković - visiting Croatia for the European Under-17 finals - has seen at first hand that work to nurture young players throughout Europe is in capable hands.
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UEFA football development advisor Dejan Stanković has visited the European Under-17 Championship finals in Croatia – and was delighted to see that investment in development is paying handsome dividends across Europe.
Stanković, who enjoyed an outstanding career as a player with Serbia and, among others, FC Internazionale Milano, attended the match between Croatia and Spain, followed by the encounter between Bosnia and Herzegovona and Serbia.
The former Serbia captain moved to Nyon in March to take up his important UEFA role. He is working in particular on UEFA projects that help European national associations to develop their best young talents.
“Investing in the next generation of footballers is an absolute necessity in order to develop players for the future,” Stankovic said.
“Top-class football education provided in the very early stage of their growth enhances the technical level of the future professional footballers.”
Stanković praised the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for its efforts in organising and promoting the tournament, especially to youngsters.
“It was impressive to see so many children in the stands,” he reflected. “It is a great example of how important and exciting football is at this level, not only for participants, but also for the fans.”
Stanković emphasised that UEFA would continue to reinforce its football development activities in a variety of areas.
“Coach education, exchange programmes, grassroots and development tournaments are cornerstones of UEFA’s football development platform, and is a vital priority for our organisation,” he explained.
Strengthening the grassroots also occupies a prime place in UEFA’s overall mission. “The elite level of the game cannot flourish without a healthy basis,” Stanković added, “and given that football should be open to everyone.”