In a new series of posts The Panenka brings you a treasure trove of pub knowledge to use as ammo down the local boozer during the dullest of group games this Euro 2016.
In no particular order, first up is Group A, containing France, Romania, Albania and Switzerland.
Didier Deschamps, France – As a youth the France boss was a keen rugby player and enjoyed a short spell with Biarritz before starting his professional soccer career with Nantes. As recently as July 2015, Deschamps played along side other 1998 World Cup winners in a charity Rugby match against Toulon. The game included the likes of Zinedine Zidane, who naturally scored a try, and Christian Karembeu, as well as former European Footballer of the Year Jean-Pierre Papin.
Anghel Iordanescu, Romania – One of two managers at this summer’s Euro 2016 who has represented the country he coaches in the political sphere. In 2007 Iordanescu joined the Romanian senate sitting on the Social Democratic Party (PSD) benches. In 2011 he broke away from the PSD with a group of independents called the National Union for the Progress of Romania who supported then president Traian Basescu.
Gianni De Biasi, Albania – Upon qualifying for the tournament in France, the Italian was awarded the country’s highest honor, The Honor of National Order. He has also taken Albanian citizenship. The language barrier hasn’t been an issue for the Italian though, with support of translator come team captain Lorik Cana offering support with team talks. Also, De Biasi was personally instrumental in persuading some of his current squad to opt for Albania on the national circuit.
Vladimir Petkovic, Switzerland – While living in Switzerland the Bosnian worked for Caritas Ticino, a Catholic development and social service organization, where for five years he helped homeless and unemployed men and women while managing in the Swiss lower leagues. Petkovic holds a Swiss, Croatian and Bosnian passport and is fluent in Bosnian, Italian, French, English, Spanish, German and Russian.