This month's UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Liechtenstein has brought back memories of the 2003 U19 finals in the principality for Jim Boyce, first vice-chairman of the UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee.
Liechtenstein will stage the U17 event from Tuesday until 30 May, with eight nations competing for the title. Boyce, who last month made the finals draw in Vaduz, is expecting a fine tournament on the basis of what happened seven years ago.
"Liechtenstein is a small country, population of 35,000, but my mind goes back to 2003," Boyce told UEFA.com. "The semi-finals attracted just under 4,000 spectators and I think the final attracted 4,500, the biggest number if spectators to attend a soccer game in Liechtenstein at the time. They were lucky because Austria and Germany, some of the neighbouring countries were in the finals. This time they have Switzerland, who are very attractive at youth level and have done very well."
The host nation themselves will not be present, but with Switzerland joined by Spain, France, Portugal, England, the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey, an attractive tournament is in prospect. "There is no doubt about it," Boyce said. "I've spoken to the president of the Liechtenstein FA and he is delighted that, although they are not participating, UEFA decided to keep the tournament here because they've put a lot of work into the arrangements.
"When you look at the eight teams who are represented they are very strong.
We have eight tremendous sides and I think the Liechtenstein FA will put on a tournament to be proud of. They did a tremendous job for the U19s, I was lucky to be here in 2003, and I'm sure this one will be equal to that."
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