Across the Pond: Euro 2012 and Portland connections

11 June 3:28 pm

Across the Pond: Euro 2012 and Portland connections

By Brian Costello

The 2012 FIFA European Championships got off to a rousing start late last week with group play. Poland's Robert Lewandowski got things started with the first goal of the tournament. The celebration of over 100,000 people in Warsaw's central square was not to be missed.

While MLS has only one player in the mix this year--LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane is the captain of Ireland--there are a number of players who Portland fans may have come across via recent international friendlies with the Timbers. Will it help you pick your side? Who knows, but take a look:

Joe Hart for Manchester City at UP - Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer 

England
Roy Hodgson - The current England manager most recently was the head man for West Bromwich Albion when they came through Portland in 2011 and helped lead them to a 3-2 win. Euro 2012 marks Hodgson's first tournament with the Three Lions
Joe Hart - The current England starter in net was also the starting goalkeeper in Manchester City's 3-0 win over the USL-era Timbers in 2010 at the University of Portland.
Joleon Lescott - Part of the Manchester City travel roster in 2010, Lescott came on in the second half against the Timbers at UP. More recently, he started and scored England's only goal in their opening Euro 2012 1-1 draw with France on Monday.

Holland
Gregory van der Wiel - The young Dutch defender came to Portland last season as part of Ajax's U.S. trip and played the full 90 picking up an assist in their 2-0 exhibition win over the Timbers. Van der Wiel also started in Holland's 1-1 draw with Denmark last week.

Ireland
Simon Cox - Though English-born, Cox qualifies for Ireland from his grandmother's side. The West Bromwich Albion striker came on as a second half sub against the Timbers last July. He was also a 62nd minute addition for Ireland in their 3-1 loss to Croatia.
Shay Given - Part of the travel roster with Manchester City in 2010 when they played the USL-era Timbers at University of Portland, Given was held out of the match. He is currently the starting goalkeeper for the Irish and leads the squad witn 123 caps.

Sweden
Jonas Olsson - Another member of the West Brom squad who played here last season, the veteran Olsson was an unused sub in Sweden's 2-1 loss to Ukraine earlier today.

Looking to learn more about the Euros? Check out KickTV's coverage of the tournament. Former U.S. international and MLS defender Jimmy Conrad has been traveling about Poland and Ukraine taking in the sites, training, and the matches. It's a must watch if you want to get a feel for the pure fun that is the European tournament. As a sampler, take a look at his talking his way into the Spain-Italy match on Sunday: