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"The fact we were chosen as hosts of such an event can only help Slovak football," said Slovakia's senior international captain Martin Škrtel as the defender looked forward to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, which starts on Sunday.
The central European nation will welcome the cream of the continent's young talent over two weeks, culminating in the Zilina final on 17 May – with Škrtel proud his country will hold the tournament and positive about the legacy it will leave.
"I hope we will make good use of it and that our football will progress," said the 28-year-old centre-back. "I am surprised that something like this will take place in Slovakia because we are not used to it. It is a good thing for Slovak football because it will come to the fore – I think it will bring progress as far as the visibility and general profile of Slovak football is concerned."
The competition should prove a vital stage in the development of the home side, some of whom may be joining Škrtel in the senior ranks. The Liverpool FC player knows his junior counterparts will give their all. "They appreciate what they are going to be playing for, and I think they are lucky that they can play such a tournament at home in Slovakia in front of their friends, families and fans," he said. "It is a great thing for them, and I hope they do well. I will keep my fingers crossed and really hope they succeed."
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