How to follow the New Zealand connections at UEFA Euro Championship

posted in: News, Uncategorized

When you are following a football tournament on the other side of the world, it’s always nice to know if there’s a New Zealand link somehow.

So we’ve found a few Kiwi connections to help you look twice when you’re following a game in the middle of the night.

Here goes …

The striker who found his feet in Whangarei

Ukraine forward Roman Yaremchuk (25) has worked hard to recover from an Achilles tendon injury in time for the Euro’s and any success at the tournament will cap a fine international career that’s seen him play for his country at U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-21 levels, as well as scoring eight goals in 24 full national team appearances.

His breakthrough came at the unlikely venue of the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on June 2, 2015.

Yaremchuk’s team had drawn the opening game of the FIFA U-20 World Cup against hosts New Zealand, when neither side could find the net.

Going into their second match, Ukraine had yet to manufacture a goal by half-time of their now-crucial group game against Myanmar at North Harbour Stadium.

Six minutes into the second spell, Yaremchuk broke the deadlock, scoring with a header. The goal opened up their opponents, with two more goals in the next five minutes. The full-time score was 6-0 and Ukraine ended up top of their group, ahead of the fancied United States.

This month, Yaremchuk, who plays his club football for Belgian club Gent, could be a key player in Ukraine’s campaign. His record shows a habit of him scoring crucial goals in low-scoring games.

Ukraine play Netherlands, North Macedonia and Austria in their group.

Watch Yaremchuk score 50 goals for Gent:

The full-back who could have become an All White

Chelsea and England left-back Ben Chilwell (24) might have played for New Zealand if his progress at Leicester City had not brought him to the attention of England national selectors.

Chilwell was a youth player at the Midlands club from 2009 till 2015 and he was called into the England U-18s, U-19s and U-20s squads.

In other circumstances, he might have joined Leicester clubmate Chris Wood into the All Whites.

Chilwell’s father, Wayne, is a New Zealander who moved to England in 1993, three years before he was born.

Though his father wanted him to play rugby, Chilwell followed a career into football and he’s now a marauding left-back with UEFA European Champions Chelsea.

One thing to watch for during England’s games at the Euro’s … look for the tattoo of New Zealand on Chilwell’s left forearm.

England play Croatia, Scotland and Czech Republic in their group games.

Learning how to grind out results in New Plymouth

When Hungary arrived in New Zealand for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, few gave them much hope of getting through the group stage.

Drawn against Brazil, Nigeria and North Korea, the Hungarians knew they would have to manage their results carefully.

They lost 2-1 to Brazil, lost 2-0 to Nigeria and beat North Korea 5-1. Importantly, their goal difference was +1 and it enabled them to progress to the knockout stages as one of the best-performing third-placed teams from the groups.

Of all the squads that visited New Zealand for that tournament, none produced more full internationals than the Hungarians with seven players making the step up to the full national team since.

Three of them will be at the Euro’s – winger Dominik Nagy (26) who plays club football for Budapest Honvéd; midfielder Roland Sallai (24), now with German club SC Freiburg, and midfielder Adam Nagi (25), a Bristol City player who is expected to play his 50th full international at the Euro’s.

Hungary will need to grind out more tournament results this month – they are in the ‘Group of Death’ with Portugal, France and Germany.