After seven sweltering days of competition in Bulgaria, Dolnośląski of Poland lifted the 2006/07 UEFA Regions' Cup.
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After seven sweltering days of competition in Bulgaria, Dolnośląski Region of Poland lifted the 2006/07 UEFA Regions' Cup.
Holders Basque Country had earned the right to represent Spain again but were knocked out in qualifying by France's Basse-Normandie, who joined teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland in the finals alongside Dolnośląski and the area picked as hosts, Bulgaria's South-East Region.
The finals were headquartered in Sliven, the town's mayor a certain Yordan Letchkov, still unmistakable as the figure that scored that famous 1994 FIFA World Cup quarter-final header against Germany. Playing all their games in Sliven, South-East Region won Group A as they equalised late to hold Bosnia and Herzegovina's Tuzla Canton 1-1, struck a timely winner to defeat Basse-Normandie and drew 0-0 with Northern Ireland's Eastern Region, who took the Fair Play prize.
Tuzla led the group prior to Matchday 3, but fell by losing 2-0 to Basse-Normandie in Radnevo, some consolation for the French side who had already lost to late goals from both Eastern Region and the hosts.
Dolnośląski began Group B by overcoming Ukraine's Ivan Odessa 2-1 while Ticino of Switzerland defeated Portugal's Aveiro 2-0. The two Matchday 1 victors then faced off and in a thriller Dolnośląski came from behind to win 2-1. Aveiro's 2-0 win against Ivan Odessa kept the group alive but they were then denied in a 1-1 draw with Dolnośląski in Stara Zagora while Ticino's hopes went with a 1-0 loss to Ivan Odessa in Rakovski. There was, however, a bronze medal for Aveiro as well as Tuzla, those teams deemed to have finished joint third as group runners-up.
A UEFA Regions' Cup finals record crowd of 3,500 flocked to Sliven's Hadzhi Dimitar stadium for the decider and were delighted when Plamen Stoyanov put the hosts ahead on 66 minutes, as they aimed to avoid the fate of 2005 runners-up and compatriots South-West Region-Sofia.
However Dolnośląski, dominated until then, found new resolve and Michał Sudoł equalised with a long-range free-kick before substitute Szymon Jaskulowski headed the extra-time winner.
"Bulgaria is great, a nice country; I was very surprised, I didn't think everything would be so good here," 22-year-old student Jaskulowski declared, while the then UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee first vice-chairman who presented the trophy, Jim Boyce, added: "It means the world to these players. They get to play on the best pitches, be treated like stars - they love that. This year's has been the best ever."