The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) is looking back on a challenging but rewarding finals, which proved a particularly big attraction for local football fans.
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With the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final round having drawn to a close on Sunday evening, bringing down the curtain on a hectic fortnight in Greece, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) is able to look back with pride on a job well done.
"It's been a very successful tournament and we are very satisfied," tournament director Pafsanias Papanikolaou, also the EPO's general secretary, told UEFA.com. "It was a tough, tiring process for everyone, but the outcome is rewarding as we achieved all the goals we set."
The local organising committee (LOC) initially consisted of ten people, a number that swelled to 28 as the tournament approached. "All of us had previous experience from the organisation of the 2004 Olympic Games, the 2007 UEFA Champions League final and several elite-round games in UEFA youth tournaments," Papanikolaou explained. "Being able to pull off a tournament of the highest standards is a very good message for our federation and for the local authorities."
With more than 70,000 spectators attending the 15 finals matches, the tournament has certainly proved a big draw. "It's an an impressive number, taking into consideration the hot temperatures and the current situation in the country," said Papanikolaou, who described himself as "excited and proud" as crowds flocked to Katerini, Larissa and Veria.
"However, we were certain that Greeks would embrace the tournament. Our country loves football and the local crowds were excited to watch up close the future of European football, players who are already starring in their clubs and will be dominating headlines in upcoming years.
"This project started out as an idea five years ago, when we submitted the bid to organise the tournament in northern Greece," he added. "This location was ideal due to the stadiums, the vicinity of Thessaloniki airport, the abundance of hotels and the zeal of local authorities and football union."
Deputy tournament director Aimilios Apostolopoulos underlined the co-operation with UEFA, saying: "Their know-how was essential and they helped us considerably to look for solutions in complicated situations. They looked for substance and guided us accordingly."
The political situation in Greece added an extra challenge for the local organisers, who responded with great efficiency. "We acted swiftly," said Apostolopoulos. "Furthermore, our preparation and the fact that we were practically ready before the crisis meant there were no loose ends. Everything worked like clockwork."