As Thierry Henry’s home country prepares to host Euro 2016, the former France striker looks at European Championship stories, assessing the social and cultural impact football has had across the continent.
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Former Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo has been appointed the new manager of Aston Villa.
The Italian succeeds Remi Garde, who was sacked in March before the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
Di Matteo, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012, will be assisted by former Blues team-mate Steve Clarke.
Villa were also linked with ex-Manchester United boss David Moyes and new Derby County manager Nigel Pearson, but Di Matteo was always first choice.
Dr Tony Xia, the Chinese businessman whose takeover of Villa is awaiting Football League and Premier League approval, is convinced Di Matteo will raise the West Midlands club’s profile in the Championship.
The former West Brom and Schalke boss and Clarke, 52, have been out of management since last year.
The pair have never worked together in management but were Chelsea team-mates for two years.
Clarke will take hands-on responsibility for Villa’s group of underachieving players.
The Scot has excellent contacts and recent experience in the Championship, having managed Reading until he was sacked last December.
Thanks to his time at Newcastle United and Liverpool, he also has an excellent reputation as a first-team coach and worked as an assistant to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea for three years.
As a head coach, Clarke, a former Scotland international, guided West Brom to their highest Premier League position of eighth in 2013.
Di Matteo has not managed at Championship level since 2009-10, when he guided West Brom to an immediate return to the top flight.
Since 2011, the former midfielder, who won 34 caps for Italy, has been sacked by the Baggies and Chelsea. He left Bundesliga side Schalke in May 2015 after failing to qualify for the Champions League.
The first task for Di Matteo and Clarke will be to eliminate underperforming players on long contracts, while bringing in players suited to the physical challenges of the Championship.
New owner Xia has already promised extensive funds for player recruitment.
Former England striker Michael Owen has told the current squad to play without fear at Euro 2016.
Roy Hodgson’s side begin their campaign against Russia on 11 June, before facing Wales and Slovakia.
“Forget who’s going to cost us,” Owen, who represented England at five major tournaments, told BBC Sport.
“There’s almost a fear of being ‘the one’ – and that then turns into a selfish attitude. You can’t be expressive, you can’t be creative.”
In an interview with BBC Sport’s David Ornstein, the 36-year-old added: “There will be one person that everyone’s going to gang up on – the press, the media, whatever – but you’ve got to be bigger than that, not bothered about that and actually just do what’s best for the team.
“There’s been a fear over the years because we all see someone missing a penalty or someone getting sent off and costing the team.
“The whole country then almost gangs up on that player.
“There’s a fear amongst the squad – or there certainly was in my time – whereby you just didn’t want to be that person everybody castigates, gets vilified, and you’re the one that misses a penalty and they make a pizza advert about you.”
Gareth Southgate featured in an advert for Pizza Hut after Euro 96 following England’s semi-final exit to eventual tournament winners Germany.
The host nation went out after the then Aston Villa defender was the only player to miss a penalty in the shootout after the game at Wembley had finished 1-1 following extra time.
At the 1998 World Cup in France, midfielder David Beckham was sent off against Argentina for kicking out at Diego Simeone before England exited on penalties at the last-16 stage.
Then in 2006 at the World Cup in Germany, striker Wayne Rooney was dismissed for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho as England went out in the quarter-finals, again after a penalty shootout.
Owen on John Stones
Everton’s John Stones – one of only three recognised centre-backs in England’s 23-man squad – has faced criticism for the way he plays the game, often preferring to dribble his way out of trouble rather than clear the ball.
But Owen has strongly defended the 22-year-old and said: “This kid could play for Barcelona.
“He’s probably the only player in the England squad who could walk into Barcelona’s team at the moment.
“He’s absolutely brilliant. Get behind him, believe in him.”
Owen said some of the negativity surrounding Stones was because he is “so much better than most other players”.
The former Liverpool, Newcastle United, Real Madrid and Manchester United forward added: “People just don’t realise that a lot of it is under control. He will make the odd mistake but so will everyone – everyone just goes on and on and on about mistakes.
“Eventually someone might start getting into his head and he might not be the player he should because of this negativity that surrounds our country so often.”
Owen on Marcus Rashford
Striker Marcus Rashford, 18, only made his Manchester United debut in February but has enjoyed a meteoric rise since then.
Owen, who was just 18 when he played in the 1998 World Cup, thinks Rashford will cope at Euro 2016 but says it will be hard for him to escape the hype and expectation.
“Every game that I played I scored – and I just thought it’s not going to be any different going to a World Cup,” said Owen.
“That naivety is the best attribute you can have. People that are scarred, that have failed maybe at a big tournament, have always got a niggling doubt. That naivety is almost priceless.
“The problem now is we’re living in a different day and age.
“Glenn Hoddle was the manager in 1998 and we were locked down, bolted down. We didn’t know about anything in newspapers and if mobile phones were invented I didn’t have one.
“We knew nothing. No-one was allowed to visit our hotel.
“Nowadays, someone like Rashford will be on his mobile phone in his room, reading all of social media, all the newspapers, all of what everybody is saying. He’s going to be aware of good, bad and indifferent.
“I was oblivious to it all. It’s going to be very different for him, but it doesn’t matter. When you can do something really well, you don’t get nervous.”
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