Chris Young

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Chris Young is a writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience covering a wide range of sports and news for the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, including seven World Cup finals and one glorious Euro 2004.

  • Spain’s Euro reign is a lesson on the power of a unified team

    Spain lifts the trophy after victory during the UEFA EURO 2012 Final match between Spain and Italy (Getty Images)So this is how a team for the ages responds to the moment: Spain 4, Italy 0.

    They didn't just knock on history's door. La Roja were absolutely Furio, kicking it into so many splinters, they're still picking them out of the Azzurri backline's butts. Best team ever? No one has ever gone Euro-World Cup-Euro without relinquishing the trophy - and with this kind of style. Yeah, I'd say the shoe fits.

    [Slideshow: Canada reacts to Spain's big win]

    On Canada Day, yet, with all the main thoroughfares of this city and many others in this multicultural nation wearing the Azzurri blue (or wearing almost nothing at all, this being Pride Parade Day as well), they were a lesson not only in rising to the occasion, but doing it within a true team framework. The power of team - that's what a neutral, Canadian fan can take from this. There's no towering Zidane figure. Rather, it starts with two all-world midfielders of rare vision and precision in Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, and continues with a

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  • Italy’s Andrea Pirlo’s Euro 2012 is far and away better than his 2010 World Cup

    Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo kicks the ball during the Euro 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)On a cool morning north of Johannesburg two years ago, we all waited for Andrea Pirlo. It was Italy's last training session before their final bows of a colourless World Cup title defence, and with Pirlo returning from injury maybe the magic would return with him. That was the thought, anyway. The reality, even a casual observer could see. In a ski hat and baggy sweats that looked straight out of the House of Bellichick catalogue, Pirlo hardly broke out of a light jog.

    The cameras had barely recorded 30 seconds of shuffling before Italy's press followers were dialing home, each update within earshot sounding more like a moan of despair. Pirlo would come on as a desperation substitute with half an hour to go in their group finale versus Slovakia, the last bit of business of Marcelo Lippi's second, doomed go-round as Azzurri boss. He breathed a little invention into a side lacking in it, but not enough, and they went home.

    [Dirty Tackle: Buffon feared Germany would rally and beat Italy

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  • Italians in Toronto celebrate upset over Germany at Euros

    Italy's victory over Germany in the semifinals on Thursday delighted thousands of fans that live in the GTA

    Finally this Euro 2012 got what it needed: a shocking upset result, and a game to savour.

    Italy 2, Germany 1, with the hitherto unbeaten losers mounting a furious but futile charge at the last, was the highest 90-plus minutes of drama this tournament has produced. But in these parts, where 500,000 in the GTA alone claim old-country Italian roots, it will have special resonance. It makes for a hell of a Canada Day, for one thing, the Tricolore set to compete with the Maple Leaf for car-flag supremacy, while Pirlo, Buffon and the boom-or-bust figure of Mario Balotelli try to: a) prevent Spain their spot among the very best, maybe the best team in the pantheon of the world's most popular game; or b) save the game from the "boring" style of the pass-happy Spaniards.

    [Martin Rogers: Mario Balotelli goes from bad boy to hero for Italy]

    However you answer that one marks you on one side or the other of this year's most tiresome debates. TSN, the pubs, and the betting websites don't really

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  • Your Euro 2012 home (or venue) is where your heart is

    On Saturday, it was Club Hispano, for Spain-France. Sunday brought a couch in Brum buddy Jon's living room, the house marked outside by a St. George's Cross flag, the pregame show a screening of Babe ("better than the game, this," Jon said prophetically).

    You find your weekend hot spots and treasure them when something like a Euro or a World Cup comes around. It doesn't have to be at some crowded Little Italy restaurant, or out on the streets of St. Clair in Toronto or Vancouver's Commercial Drive. That's the beauty of getting into it here in Canada, and as a tournament still crying out for that one Match To Remember winds down, Toronto continues for a few more days to be a pretty good place to watch and hope, no matter what your allegiance.

    Two of the city's biggest communities remain with Italy and Portugal, so they should rule the streets for at least one more day but perhaps no more, both being pronounced underdogs in their semifinals against Germany and Spain. The latter pairing

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  • Feasting on UEFA’s comedy of errors at Euro 2012

    English defender John Terry (R) clears the ball during the Euro 2012 football championships match England vs Ukraine.English defender John Terry (R) clears the ball during the Euro 2012 football championships match England vs Ukraine.This was Michel Platini's day from hell, starting with a brunch of opprobrium and finishing with late supper of egg on face.

    First, the main course. For the one per centres atop the global sports pyramid, that usually means chateaubriand in some ritzy five-star restaurant. For the UEFA president on Tuesday at Euro 2012, it was the end of the fifth-official system he championed, sunk in the seconds it took for TV replays to clearly show Marko Devic's shot was in the goal before it was neatly hooked out by England's John Terry, while that fifth official stood a few yards away watching.

    The trains in these kind of competitions tend to run on time, and that was the goal-line technology special pulling into the net at Donetsk, right on schedule, and steamrolling right over Le President, and the status quo.

    [Martin Rogers: Calls for goal-line technology after the Ukraine denied goal vs. England]

    The difference this time, as opposed to all those other times before at big tournaments dating

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  • Euro 2012 minnows can be role models for Canadian World Cup ambitions

    Dwayne De Rossario and Wilson PalaciosDwayne De Rossario and Wilson Palacios (Getty Images)

    TORONTO - A Euro tournament packs a powerful punch, even an ocean away.

    The bars are crowded. The audience is a colourful mix of hardcore (Opta stat freaks), casual (Italy bandana), whimsical (Viking horns), preoccupied (in-game texters) and frauds (Man United tops). Euro football is top-class and telegenic.

    But much as we deny it, we're not just onlookers. We're part of this world too. Looking at it through Canadian eyes, you can't help but ask - why can't we play this game the same way, and get the same interest? Who can we learn from? And while we're going inquiring-minds, why would a grown man wear face paint?

    [Slideshow: Canadian men's soccer team]

    This week afforded a rare meeting of footballing bodies large and small: The solar glare of Euro 2012, eclipsed by Canada's latest batch of quadrennial World Cup hopefuls (at least on BMO Field's lakefront grass, observed by 16,000 or so, including some of those face-painted).

    The Canadians are trying to finish in the top two of their

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  • Sheva, Azzurri top Euro 2012′s early bravura list

    Andriy Shevchenko delivers the drama on day four of Euro 2012

    One round of matches down at Euro 2012, and two show-stopping performances to show for it.

    Andriy Shevchenko brought the curtain and the house down Monday night in Kiev, a day after Italy warmed up the Gdansk crowd.

    Don't underestimate the ripple effect of Sheva's two goals, his first brace in a Ukraine uni in eight years. He's given his side hope, and this tournament some wings. No host had won a Euro opener since 2000, and nothing unnerves a home country showing itself to the world like a first-time-out faceplant. The Opta chalkboard mapped it out, but seeing it, and especially that flashing near-post header that sealed a 2-1 comeback against Sweden, was as timely as it was stylish, after co-hosts Poland had blown a 1-0 lead against 10-men Greece on Friday.

    [Dirty Tackle: Andriy Shevchenko: Remember this name]

    Sheva. The Azzurri. You'd think we were back in the halcyon days of six or eight years ago, when the Euro wasn't all about austerity packages and bailouts.
    As for Italy, it's

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  • Darren Anderton says underdog role suits England just fine at Euros

    England manager Roy HodgsonEngland manager Roy Hodgson

    Ex-England, ex-Spurs, and soon to be TSN studio pundit for this Euro 2012, Darren Anderton has done his share of living inside the same five-star fishbowl that Roy Hodgson & Co. have sublet over in Poland.

    The English are followed by one of the globe's most ravenous media crowds, and there's always one story they're collectively gnawing on in the lead-up to major tournaments. Some of them, like this one that has Hodgson passing up the delights of a packed press room, seem more substantive than just an amusing distraction (shouldn't the WAGS be making an appearance?). All of them are overheated beyond belief, fuelled by nearly half a century of misses - on that level, anyway, England is the biennial footballing equivalent to the Maple Leafs.

    Anderton recalls his Euro debut, at age 24, at Wembley in 1996, when it hit him full force.

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