This content is streamed in such a way that it is protected and available only in a Flash format. Your device seems not to be compatible with our Flash video player.
The UEFA president writes from South Africa:
The challenge was enormous – and the South African people have risen to this challenge. The first FIFA World Cup staged on the African continent has been a resounding success.
As the matches and events passed by, the organisation got into its stride, the wheels quickly clicked into gear, and the extraordinary kindness, and innate sense of hospitality and pride of an entire people, have done the rest.
The South Africans showed an extraordinary capacity to overcome their initial grief after the elimination of the Bafana Bafana, before going on to identify with all of their continent. Over the course of the matches, with their satisfactions and disappointments, they have shared joy with all those taking part in this great football festival – and have shown a remarkable measure of respect for everything and everyone. I can only congratulate them on this.
As far as the football is concerned, and ahead of potentially exciting semi-finals, there is no doubt that, in the case of the three European representatives, we are witnessing a triumph for technical education programmes, sound management and good governance.
The three nations who have won the most youth competitions over the past ten years are now in the final four: Germany, winners of the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship; the Netherlands, who won the previous U21 title in 2007; and finally Spain, successive winners on four occasions of UEFA's Maurice Burlaz Trophy, which is awarded to the national association with the best results in UEFA's youth competitions. Can all of this be put down to mere good luck? I don't think so.
Ultimately, nothing could be more pleasing than this state of affairs. Three teams with youth and freshness at their heart, deploying playing systems that leave considerable room for creativity. This not only makes me happy – three great football nations can also derive pleasure. It represents a victory for the beautiful game, with the accent placed on attacking football. Above all, it is just reward for the long-term efforts of three associations who have invested in education and training. A model policy which could, for the first time in football history, enable a European team to win a World Cup staged outside our continent.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish the best of luck to Europe's three remaining participants – and may the best team win!
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.