Portugal's golden generation just misses out on glory

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:04 IST

Portugal went further than ever before in reaching the Euro 2004 final. They lost by a goal to Greece, but they lost in style and delighted their fans.

Portugal's golden generation just misses out on glory

Lisbon:

Goodbye golden generation. Thanks for the thrills. The crop of brilliant players who emerged from the Portugal side which won the 1991 world under-21 title and went on to join Europe's top clubs were feted as the country's "golden generation" and dubbed "the Brazilians of Europe" for their flair. But they never won a trophy. As that group steps aside for emerging young stars, Portugal went further than ever before in reaching the Euro 2004 final. They lost by a single goal to Greece, but they lost in style and delighted their fans. And the Portuguese have a new nickname for their new wonderkids: the platinum generation. The transition is being masterminded by Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who two years ago collected the World Cup title for his country. Scolari's team - a blend of the old and the new - kept spirits up despite the crushing defeat. "The Portuguese team was excellent at Euro 2004. Nobody's going to keep us down. We'll bounce back even stronger," Scolari said, adding: "This is not the end. We'll win something in the future. We'll see you at the next World Cup in two years' time." Euro 2004 was a turning point landmark for the national team as the veterans made way for the new blood. AC Milan midfielder Rui Costa, who was mostly kept on the subs' bench by FC Porto playmaker Deco, said last week he's retiring from the national side at the end of the championship. FC Porto's Ricardo Carvalho pushed out veteran Lazio central defender Fernando Couto. Even national soccer icon Luis Figo of Real Madrid had to fight for a place in the side with Manchester United teenager Cristiano Ronaldo, the torchbearer for the new generation. "We have to lift our chins up and look to the future," said Ronaldo, who wept after the defeat and was comforted by soccer great Eusebio. "This doesn't end here. We showed we have a great team and we'll keep going." Figo has said he's mulling retirement from international soccer. Figo, Costa and Couto, all now in their 30s, have more than 300 caps between them. Also, Sporting Lisbon goalie Ricardo Pereira banished the ghost of veteran Vitor Baia who was not even on the roster. Even first-choice striker Pauleta, who had a blank scoresheet at the European Championship, is looking over his shoulder at the challenge from Benfica's Nuno Gomes and Tottenham teenager Helder Postiga. "We'll be in more tournament finals," Postiga said. "We have the players to do it." (AP)

Topics : Football
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