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U21 trophy tour set for Prague launch

Stars of Czech football such as Antonín Panenka and Tomáš Ujfaluši are on board for the UEFA European U21 Championship trophy tour around the host nation.

Former winner Michal Pospíšil and LOC chairman Petr Fousek with the trophy
Former winner Michal Pospíšil and LOC chairman Petr Fousek with the trophy ©Ondřej Zlámal

Fans in the Czech Republic are being given the unique chance to get acquainted with the UEFA European Under-21 Championship trophy as it begins a nine-stop tour of the host country before the finals action kicks off on 17 June.

Big names from Czech football – including Antonín Panenka, Pavel Horváth and Tomáš Ujfaluši – plus stars of the country's victorious 2002 U21 squad in the shape of Lukáš Zelenka, Michal Pospíšil, Zdeněk Grygera and Radoslav Kováč, will accompany the tour. Eager supporters will have their first opportunity to see the trophy at the Stadion Letná during Saturday's Prague derby between AC Sparta Praha and SK Slavia Praha.

"The trophy will travel throughout the Czech Republic from west to east. It will be presented not only at the final tournament venues – Prague, Olomouc and Uherske Hradiste – but in Plzen and Otrokovice as we want the maximum number of fans in our country to have a chance to come and take a look," said Petr Fousek, chairman of the local organising committee (LOC).

One of the tour participants to whom the trophy is more than familiar is 2002 winner Pospíšil. "I remember the whole tournament and the team that achieved such great success. It was an extraordinary experience that has been with me throughout my career. At all the clubs I played for, our victory was mentioned and appreciated," the former Sparta and FC Slovan Liberec forward said.

"It was a real turning point. I was a different player after that tournament, everybody knew me. It helped me earn a permanent place at Sparta. I was a fully developed player as I had the experience of having faced the top players in Europe," Pospíšil added of the championship's benefit to players.

The 2015 finals start with the hosts taking on Denmark on 17 June before concluding with the 30 June final.