"It is not necessary to have an extraordinarily good time," starts the song the Czech Republic warmed up to before their four matches at UEFA EURO 2012.
While it was not an amazing time for Michal Bílek's men, it certainly was not a bad one either. The Národní tým showed great togetherness and a will to fight for the cause. Appropriate, then, that their efforts were appreciated by their satisfied fans at the National Stadium Warsaw after losing 1-0 to Portugal in the first quarter-final.
The song lyrics continue: "But it is not allowed to have a sad time, nor to start weeping." Fitting words indeed for the position the national side find themselves in. Fans all over Europe, even the world, are now familiar with the names of Petr Jiráček, Václav Pilař, Theodor Gebre Selassie, David Limberský, Daniel Kolář and Vladimír Darida while Tomáš Pekhart, Tomáš Necid and Marek Suchý, perhaps better known, continue to wait patiently for their chance.
This new generation took their first steps at a EURO, earning invaluable experience along the way. The team showed fighting spirit in negotiating the tricky situation brought about by the 4-1 loss to Russia in their opening Group A game.
Their best performance was in the 1-0 victory against co-hosts Poland. I will always remember the home supporters clapping the Czech Republic off the field at full time in that game, despite the fact their team had just been eliminated from the tournament. These were some of the best football moments I have seen.
For me, it was an extraordinarily good time and a real honour to follow the squad. Believe it or not, they have not refused a single interview request and were always ready to share their views with UEFA.com and other media outlets. After the defeat by Portugal, they did not look for excuses and admitted they lost to the better team.
"We have to use the valuable experience the new, young players gained in this tournament in the qualification [campaign] for the next FIFA World Cup," Petr Čech, captain for the night in Warsaw in Tomáš Rosický's absence from the starting XI, told me.
Before travelling to UEFA EURO 2012, Czech fans announced their intention to put aside domestic rivalries and unite behind the national side. Perhaps this, too, might lead to a brighter future off the pitch.
So, like the team, my time in Poland has come to an end. I would like to thank all my readers and Twitter followers for taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope you enjoyed following the Czech team as much as I did. I, just like you, can now enjoy the rest of UEFA EURO 2012 as a fan.
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