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'European youth football is growing in strength across the continent'

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin looks ahead to the Under-19 EURO with Malta Football Association (MFA) counterpart Bjorn Vassallo, who as hosts are competing in their first finals.

Domenic Aquilina

Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA president

Welcome to Malta for the 2023 UEFA European Under-19 Championship final tournament!

Over the years, these finals have proved to be a great launching pad for many true football stars. They come at a crucial time in their career and, with many breaking into their clubs' first teams, such international experience is invaluable.

The composition of the final eight indicates that European youth football is growing in strength across the continent. The usual suspects are there, such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, and I am delighted to see Greece, Poland and Norway returning to the scene after a long break. But special compliments go to hosts Malta and Iceland for their first appearance in the finals.

The Malta Football Association hosted the men's Under-17 finals in 2014, and we are delighted to retum to this fantastic island this summer. I want to thank the host association and its president Bjorn Vassallo for their hospitality and diligent work in preparations for what promises to be another memorable tournament.

Now, enough talking. Let the games begin!

U19 EURO: Which stars will emerge in Malta?

Bjorn Vassallo, MFA president

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Malta for the 2023 UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals.

'Where Legends are Born' is the perfect slogan for this exciting tournament which provides a showcase for emerging talent in Europe while promoting national team football. Malta may be one of the smallest nations in the European football family, but it boasts a rich football history, with the Malta Football Association founded in 1900. Beyond the warmth, hospitality and friendliness that are synonymous with our people, Malta lives and breathes football. I'm sure that the participating teams, coaches, administrators, fans and journalists travelling to our country for this tournament will appreciate the passion the Maltese people have for the beautiful game. The dedicated members of our organising team and the volunteers epitomise this passion and we have left no stone unturned in our preparations.

Small countries are to be encouraged and supported to host top international events like this, not only for the experience but also for the ensuing investment in human resources and football infrastructure, and the long-term development of football in the country. I have no doubt that this tournament will serve as a compelling advert for the promotion of football, providing a platform for Europe's up-and-coming footballers to shine. From a local perspective, the tournament will offer further encouragement to our young footballers to keep striving to fulfil their dreams while attracting more youngsters to play. It's all about leaving a legacy and I'm confident that this tournament will.

In wishing good luck to all the participating teams, I hope that the values of respect and fair play will prevail throughout this final tournament.

See the official tournament programme