UEFA EURO 2008™ was not just an entertaining spectacle on the pitch, being rightly hailed as one of the most exciting tournaments of modern times. The players and coaches involved in Austria and Switzerland also provided some colourful reaction in between games and here are some of the highlights.
The quality of play is extolled unanimously by all observers. Defensive tactics are nowhere to be seen – rather, all legal means are being used to overpower the other team. Team play is not stifling the talent of individuals, who are frequently giving some particularly dazzling performances. It's a real treat for football fans.
UEFA President Michel Platini hails the standard of football at UEFA EURO 2008™
We are always emotional, we cannot change that. Even if we wanted to, we don't want to. There are coaches who stay in the dugout and those like me who are more active.
Croatia coach Slaven Bilić on his side's passionate style
To put two central strikers in a team whose biggest problems are on the wings, you'd have to play with 13 players.
Czech Republic coach Karel Brückner explains why Jan Koller and Milan Baroš were not fielded together
I simply cannot put up with this 'playing well and losing' thing any more. We lost. We are not here to play well ... but to win. We were criticised in friendlies, which we could not understand, and now we have lost and there's praise. Of course, I am having difficulties with that.
Switzerland vice-captain Ludovic Magnin on his team's early exit
There can't be great victories without painful defeats.
Coach Brückner after a 3-2 loss to Turkey cost the Czechs a quarter-final place
It wouldn't have mattered if we'd lost 2-0 or 4-0, so we had to go for it. Even when everyone else was settling for penalties after we pulled level, I was signalling for the team to try for a third goal.
Turkey trainer Fatih Terim on the flip side of that decisive fixture
When I worked with Trinidad & Tobago at the last World Cup I woke up every morning to the sound of Bob Marley, now I wake up every day suffering from a headache!
Poland coach Leo Beenhakker gets to grips with a growing injury list
Every evening we sit together and just talk about football. Sometimes I wish we could talk about other things as well.
Germany goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke feeling the strain
We will carry out our usual preparations, just like for the qualifying matches. We won't be doing different things just because we are at the EURO – it's not like we will walk around the park naked or something. We have our normal programme and then we will go [singing] 'tra-la-la' to the stadium. We will play 'tra-la-la' but I don't know if we will still be 'tra-la-la' after the game.
Dutchman Beenhakker on Poland's routine between matches
There were times where they were ready to prepare a camel for me in front of the stadium so I could ride into the desert. In autumn 2007 I had support from three per cent of the population. Is three and a half now good enough for me to continue?
Austria coach Josef Hickersberger after his side's brave exit
They say that if it rains, the earth gets wet and that brings luck. I hope it will bring us luck too.
Former international Ioan Lupescu on the rain at Romania's St Gallen training camp
With all those people being here, I think I will have to phone home to check if anything is still there.
Netherlands coach Marco van Basten ponders the huge number of Oranje fans in Switzerland
Everyone is still talking about that goal in the 1988 final – I think it was a bit lucky.
Rafael van der Vaart dismisses coach Van Basten's goal in the 1988 UEFA European Championship final
I am not going to answer questions about Italy. So if that's what you want, forget it. Now you have time to get a coffee.
France coach Raymond Domenech bars all talk of the Group C decider against Italy
He said he didn't feel right because of a problem with his best friend, so I offered my condolences but he was talking about the ball.
Germany's Miroslav Klose reveals details of a conversation with his FC Bayern München team-mate, Italy's Luca Toni
This squad has always had a very special bond, win, lose or draw. It was there against France, against Romania, and also in the loss to the Netherlands. I'm not just saying that because we qualified, but because that's what our dressing room is like.
Boss Roberto Donadoni on Italy's progress to the last eight with a 2-0 win against Les Bleus
I don't have anything to say to the people who want me to resign. But I would like to ask Estelle for her hand [in marriage]. The only thing I'm thinking about from now is marrying Estelle, which is why I'm asking her for her hand today. I know it's difficult at this moment but it's during these difficult times that you need people – and personally I need her.
Domenech proposes to longtime partner Estelle Denis moments after France's fatal defeat by Italy
Luis is a [Club] Atlético [de Madrid] legend, a great footballer and a wonderful man. The human condition requires you to be greedy – always hungry to better yourself and achieve more. That's what Luis is and it's the perfect petrol for the engine of a football coach.
Miguel Reina, Pepe Reina's father, on former colleague Luis Aragonés
We will not play like the Poles, whose defenders suddenly decided to grant the Germans 30 metres of space to allow them to score. That was a modern offside trap but also a modern way to lose 2-0.
Greece coach Otto Rehhagel before his side's 2-0 reverse against Sweden
A miracle only happens every 30 years. If that wasn't the case then there wouldn't be any miracles.
Rehhagel after the holders bowed out early
After [the 4-1 opening defeat by] Spain, the team were unfairly hung out to dry by the media and the pundits – it was very unpleasant to listen to all the negatives. But we wanted to prove that we have character, that we have a team and that we can play football.
Roman Pavlyuchenko sows the seeds of Russia's recovery
I'm disappointed we didn't get our game going. Maybe there is a mental factor involved, in that we're not a team that steps up from the very beginning. We lost. It's not a common occurrence but I have a bitter feeling about it.
Coach Lars Lagerbäck on the loss to Russia that sent Sweden home
PORTUGAL 2-3 GERMANY
First she told me not to do anything stupid again, which I did not do [against Portugal]. Then she said I should play the same way I did two years ago. What can you do? If the chancellor asks you to do something, you have to obey!
Bastian Schweinsteiger explains what happened when he sat beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel when suspended for Germany's final group match
I think with what we've done, expectations have become higher. Because of the way we played and especially the manner in which we won the first two games, the fans got excited by this and expected more, and I understand that.
Winger Nani on the disappointment of Portugal's premature departure
I lost a bottle of wine in a bet with [assistant coach] Hans-Dieter Flick today. I said we wouldn't score from open play. Oh, two bottles of wine ...
Germany coach Joachim Löw drinks in the success over Portugal
CROATIA 1-1 TURKEY (TURKEY WIN 3-1 ON PENALTIES)
Einstein said: 'There are two ways to live – one is to believe everything is a miracle and live your life that way, the second is to believe nothing is a miracle.' I belong to the second group.
Terim on Turkey's never-say-die spirit
I can understand why they call us 'Crazy Turks'.
Emre Aşık reflects on another drama-filled Turkey win, referring to a popular history book
The last two minutes are something I can't describe – they'll haunt me for the rest of my life.
Coach Bilić reflects on a painful evening for Croatia
NETHERLANDS 1-3 RUSSIA
There are some points of criticism. We committed too many fouls and were too passive in our reaction to their free-kicks.
Guus Hiddink nit-picks after a famous victory
I think they had a coach who knew us better than we did.
Full-back Mario Melchiot considers the Dutch undoing by Russia
They are between 22 and 26 years old, not at their peak, but not young – they are somewhere in the middle. They have the opportunity and now the question is: can they take it to the next level?
Johan Cruyff assesses the future of the Oranje
SPAIN 0-0 ITALY (SPAIN WIN 4-2 ON PENALTIES)
We go out with heads held high, but it's a painful defeat. We all gave our best and we all know it was not enough. We're very sorry for ourselves and for our fans. Spain enjoyed most of the possession but we had better chances to score. The draw was a fair result, then on penalties sometimes you celebrate and sometimes you cry.
Daniele De Rossi comes to terms with the Azzurri's demise
We have struggled to get past the quarter-finals before but now we've done it so let's see if we can get to the final. I'm not depressed when I lose, I'm not euphoric when I win. I'm happy for my country, happy for my players and also for me – this is my job.
Luis Aragonés on Spain's success
GERMANY 3-2 TURKEY
I really must say: I often had to catch my breath out there.
Angela Merkel after the dramatic triumph against Turkey
Today we beat the Turks at their own game.
Christoph Metzelder after a late Germany goal denied the comeback kings
The players should not feel bad. Yes, they lost, of course we are out, but it was our 47th day together and it is not easy to work when everyone else is on holiday. They have been here to serve their country and I told them I was proud of them, that what they did is important, and I wished them every success in the future.
Terim shows pride in his players
RUSSIA 0-3 SPAIN
I don't like this new colour, personally. But so long as I don't have to wear it, the players can. Anyway, it's not yellow, it's mustard.
Aragonés on Spain having to change from red to yellow for the semi-final
The bronze medals we were shown in the locker room are the limit for us. Today we could not have hoped for more. We were outplayed.
Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev reflects on a one-sided game
I like teams who focus on attacking and who enjoy playing. This Spain team is very experienced and love to play this type of football.
Hiddink admits his admiration for Russia's nemesis
GERMANY 0-1 SPAIN
It is a great feeling, we cannot believe what we have achieved. You watch these European competitions on TV and you want to be a part of it – and we were.
Fernando Torres after scoring the only goal in the final
We have had a great tournament and we have been the best team by a distance in all our games. There hasn't been one game where we won because we were lucky – we have won by being the better team every time.
David Villa has the secret of Spain's success
I had a quick word with every one of my players. I told them not to feel down. Yes, we lost the final and that's a disappointment for us all, but the fact we made it to the final is an achievement in itself.
Löw smiles through Germany's gallant defeat
We'll remember it for the rest of our lives – the fields, the mountains and that part of Austria. We received a very warm welcome in that little village, as did our families. It's been a different way of preparing. We were very happy, all the locals were with us, and part of us doing well could be the fact we stayed there.
Iker Casillas revisits Spain's base in Neustift, Austria
Many people will look at this Spain team because it has been a model for playing football. I think all football lovers want people to make good combinations, to get into the penalty area and to score goals. At the beginning I said that if we managed this squad well, we would be champions. The team just thought I was trying to give them confidence. I just hope Spain carry on in this way and have many more victories.
Aragonés has the last word
This article was first published in June 2008.
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