Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Euro 2012 Stars: When they were children (Bastian, Iniesta & Sheva)
by Mike Woitalla, June 15th, 2012 4:12AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  european championship, youth boys

MOST COMMENTED

By Mike Woitalla

Here's a few glimpses into the childhoods of players starring at the European Championship:

BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER (Germany).
The midfielder, who set up both goals in Germany’s 2-1 win over the Netherlands, hails from the Bavarian town of Kolbermoor -- also the birthplace of former Bayern Munich star and 1974 world champion Paul Breitner. Schweinsteiger joined Bayern Munich’s youth program at age 14.

“As I child, I thought I would be either a skier or a soccer player,” said Schweinsteiger, whose older brother, Tobias, was a three-time youth national runner-up in skiing and later played third division soccer. “When I got the offer from Bayern I had to make quick decision.”

He told GQ.com, “I thought, first of all, you don’t freeze as much. And second of all, you don’t need to carry around so much equipment or get up so early in the morning.”

Schweinsteiger debuted for Bayern Munich’s first team at age 18 in a Champions League game in 2002 and earned his first cap for Germany at age 19.

ANDRES INIESTA (Spain). The midfielder who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final grew up in the small town of Fuentealbilla near Albacete and at age 12 moved 260 miles northeast to join Barcelona.

“Iniesta was a sensitive, considerate boy -- shy but always willing to help others,” said Albert Benaiges, the coordinator of Barcelona's youth teams.

Iniesta suffered from severe homesickness and his parents visited as often as possible.

“He was very close to his family and every goodbye each weekend would become a mini-drama,” Benaiges said. “Andres would be crying and he spent a lot of time at my house, and whenever my mother sees him smiling now she always makes a joke, because she remembers how much he suffered in those days.”

Iniesta said his dreams of reaching the big stage kept him motivated while he lived at La Masia.

“You would look out and there was the Nou Camp stadium opposite,” he said. “It was always on your mind, that the goal was to play there.”

ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO (Ukraine). Already a Ukraine legend, the 35-year-old scored both goals in the host nation's 2-1 comeback win over Sweden.

Shevchenko was born 60 miles north of Kiev in the village of Dvirkivshchyna when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and his father served as a captain in a Red Army tank regiment.

At age 9, in 1986, because of the nuclear disaster in nearby Chernobyl, he was evacuated with his schoolmates to the Sea of Azov.

“We kind of knew what happened,” said Shevchenko. “But we were not told right away. It was kept secret.”

Four weeks before the Chernobyl meltdown he had signed with youth program of Dynamo Kiev, which he joined after spending the summer at the sea, even though a soccer career wasn’t the first choice his father, Nikolaj, imagined for his son.

"My parents left the choice to me, they never said, 'Do this, do that.' They said it's best you choose," said Andriy.

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for Bay Oaks/East Bay United SC in Oakland, Calif. He is the co-author, with Tim Mulqueen, of The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper
, and More Than Goals with Claudio Reyna. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
A new cycle begins for U.S. U-20 men's national team    
Coach Tab Ramos, who in June guided the USA to a quarterfinal appearance at the 2015 ...
11 Tips for Coaching the Little Ones    
"I got recruited to coach my kid's soccer team. Any advice?"
Youth leaders react to change to soccer's registration cutoff date    
On Monday, U.S. Soccer announced to two initiatives that will be mandated by August 2017. One ...
U.S. Soccer mandates major changes, altering birth-year registration and standardizing small-sided format    
U.S. Soccer has mandated a significant alteration in how American soccer will be organized -- changing ...
'Former pros can bring wealth of knowledge to the youth game' (Chris Martinez Q&A)    
Colorado native Chris Martinez, who starred for the A-League's Colorado Foxes and MLS's Colorado Rapids, now ...
The Trophy Debate -- Give kids some credit     
I'm not a big fan of trophies. They tend to be gaudy and overpriced. At the ...
'Coaches cannot be set in their ways' (Luchi Gonzalez Q&A)    
After a seven-year professional playing career, Luchi Gonzalez launched a career in education -- he served ...
World Cup-bound U.S. U-17s prep with Czech Republic tourney    
For its first gathering since the draw for the 2015 U-17 World Cup, Coach Richie Williams ...
Consider the individual when planning practice    
It's that time of year in soccer when youth teams are kicking into a new season. ...
Why should you care about sports science?     
For most, it is accepted that injury in sport is a part of the game; a ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives