Sweden midfielder Oscar Lewicki is hoping to mark his son Liam's first birthday by driving the Scandinavians to victory in Tuesday's U21 EURO final against Portugal.
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For Oscar Lewicki, Tuesday will be a special day whatever happens in the U21 EURO final at the Eden Stadium. It is a day that brings the first birthday of his son Liam and the Sweden midfielder hopes to ensure a double celebration in the evening by getting his hands on the UEFA European Under-21 Championship trophy.
The 22-year-old Malmö midfielder told UEFA.com: "My son is turning one on the day of the final, so it would be lovely to crown the day with a victory for him. He's going to be there, they're driving down in the car and he's going to be at the final."
The significance of the occasion will, he concedes, be lost on his son although if Sweden prevail, he may well find himself out on the pitch at the end so Dad can "show him all the Swedish fans who are supporting us". And if little Liam ends up awe-struck, he will not be alone. Reflecting on Sweden's surprise progress to the final, Lewicki himself has found it "very difficult to take it all in" and after Saturday night's semi-final success against Denmark, admits that the sheer excitement of it all – rather than a screaming infant – kept him awake.
"It was difficult to get to sleep because you lie awake thinking about the game with the adrenaline pumping. We made a statement not just for ourselves but for the whole Swedish football scene and the whole of Europe, which is watching. We're very proud of what we've achieved here. Now it is just one more game and why stop now?"
Lewicki certainly has not stopped since arriving in the Czech Republic. He has been one of Sweden's outstanding performers and earned special praise from his coach Håkan Ericson on the eve of the final, who spoke of his ability to "run and run and run again".
Ericson added: "He is first of all our defensive anchor. He reads the game very well, he sees when other players need him and is very strong in the tackle. For our third goal against Denmark, he won the ball high up the field and this is his speciality."
As Sweden's midfield pivot, he faces a demanding evening helping his defenders handle the threat of Portugal playmaker Bernardo Silva in the final, though the Swedes at least know what to expect after the sides' encounter in the group stage. "Of course we know a little bit about how they play – they're a very technical team with very skilful players in every position," Lewicki added.
"The No10 Bernardo Silva is a special talent and you have to keep an extra eye on him. I think we handled him quite well in the group game, so we [need to do] a lot of the good things we did then and improve on some things. It [will be] a great game to play in. I've had a few great matches in my career but I hope this one’s going to be the best."
Sweden will go into it with the backing of the best – for noise, colour and numbers – travelling support at this tournament; indeed it is estimated there could be over 2,500 Swedish supporters in the Eden Stadium on Tuesday night. "They really mean a lot to us and when you see the fans as you come onto the pitch, it gives you an advantage in every game," he said.
"It's a very big thing in Sweden and they're very proud of us back home." All that remains now is to do them proud in the final – particularly one special little boy on his birthday.