Pub team vs Euro legends. Not the walkover you might think...
As the climax to a national pub cup, Carlsberg flew a team out to be managed by Gareth Southgate against a team of legends. Ollie Stretton watched it for FourFourTwo...
The competition: the Carlsberg Pub Cup. The prize: a game against a team of European Legends in Warsaw and a trip to watch England play Sweden in Kiev. How could this not get anyone excited?
More than 4,000 teams entered the competition and the winning team Ã¢ÂÂ to be managed by Gareth Southgate Ã¢ÂÂ was International FC, representing the Britannia Pub in Monument, London.
In a competition of that size, you can't amble to victory and Southgate was suitably impressed with his new charges. Ã¢ÂÂI was very impressed with the spirit and attitude amongst them," said the former England man. "TheyÃ¢ÂÂre confident without being arrogant: they know each other and clearly care about each other. They wanted to listen and take things on board.Ã¢ÂÂ
They'd need to. In the game at the Carlsberg Fancamp, International FC were to face a team including Patrick Berger, Nuno Valente, Vitor Baia, Michel Salgado and Bolo Zenden Ã¢ÂÂ a daunting prospect for any team.
The Legends and the lads from the pub
It was Zenden whom Southgate identified as the main threat going into the game. Ã¢ÂÂI played with Zenden and his understanding of tactics is great. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs what the Dutch have done well over the years: theyÃ¢ÂÂve raised players with that tactical understanding. HeÃ¢ÂÂll take up dangerous positions and can play on both feet too.Ã¢ÂÂ
How right Southgate was. Despite initial confusion over the five-a-side rules, the Legends soon took a grip of the game, Berger still showing his class, Salgado his strength and commitment and Valente, well, perhaps a few additional pounds since he hung up his boots.
It was Salgado who gave the Legends an early lead by following up a Zenden shot saved by the impressive International FC goalkeeper-captain Michael Dill. Zenden was clearly pulling the strings but as half time approached International FC equalised.
"Get out there and give 'em hell!"
Gareth SouthgateÃ¢ÂÂs half-time team talk obviously had an impact as International FC were quickest out of the blocks, forcing Baia into a series of good saves. However, the Legends' class finally got the better as first Berger and then Salgado scored fine goals to seal a 3-1 victory for the Legends.
Not that proud International FC skipper Dill minded too much. Ã¢ÂÂIt was an honour to have the likes of Zenden, Berger and Salgado score past me," he grinned. "Clearly, they havenÃ¢ÂÂt lost that quality!Ã¢ÂÂ
For International FC it was onto Kiev to watch England take on Sweden in what turned out to be another exciting encounter. The boys from the boozer had represented their country in the Carlsberg Pub Cup: now it was down to Carroll, Walcott and Welbeck to show them how itÃ¢ÂÂs done.
Gareth Southgate was managing the Carlsberg Pub Cup five-a-side winners against a team of European Legends at the Carlsberg Fancamp, Warsaw. Visit youtube.com/carlsberguk to see highlights from the grand final and watch the Carlsberg Euro 2012 advert.