Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Euro 2012 Stars: When they were children (Bastian, Iniesta & Sheva)
by Mike Woitalla, June 15th, 2012 4:12AM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

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,” saidAlbert 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 Goalswith 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
John Hackworth: India experience provides valuable lessons for U.S. U-17 boys    
In its third international tournament of the year, the U.S. U-17 boys national team finished runner-up ...
Adding to the alphabet soup of American youth soccer    
If your children play soccer in the USA, they may be playing under the umbrella of ...
Insights on European scouting of U.S. youngsters by 'Arsenal Yankee' Danny Karbassiyoon    
Daniel Karbassiyoon jokes that Arsenal kept him from going to college twice. The first time, at ...
Police side with kids in pickup game dispute    
My favorite youth soccer story of the spring comes from Birmingham, Alabama, where police officers responded ...
U.S. girls to prep for U-17 World Cup against Swiss U-19s    
The U.S. U-17 girls national team, which is preparing for the U-17 Women's World Cup in ...
The Female Athlete Triad -- Be on the Lookout    
I was recently with a friend watching his daughter in a NorCal Premier State Cup soccer ...
Ref Watch: Players Taking Dives    
I started refereeing in 1978 and for every game that I officiated in the United States ...
Christian Pulisic near another milestone    
Christian Pulisic, the 17-year-old Pennsylvania kid who has already played nine Bundesliga games, is one game ...
U.S. Soccer goes all out to prep youth teams    
This month's U.S. youth national trips include the U-17 boys going to India while the U-20 ...
Parental influence done right -- supportive but not overbearing    
For better or worse (almost always for the better) there will be parental influence in coaching ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives