Martin Tyler
Football Commentator & Columnist

European U21 Championships: Martin Tyler on challenges of reporting

Our famous dormitory as tweeted by temporary room-mate Bryan Swanson

Tournament Football...Stuart Pearce has been emphasising its difference to regular season action to his England Under-21 charges.

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

European Under-21 Ch'ship
England v Norway
4.30pm, Sat, Sky Sports 2 HD
Italy v Israel
7.15pm, Sat, Sky Sports 2 HD

Tournament television provides a similar challenge and I'm writing this behind the scenes look at the event from a "dormitory" I am sharing with my Sky colleagues Alan Smith, reporter Bryan Swanson and cameraman Rich Harlow.

It is, we all hope, an arrangement for one night only but it shows the flexibility and camaraderie much needed when you are abroad trying to bring football on to your Sky Sports screens.

Usually the back-up is tremendous, as it was when I arrived in what was then a single room at the England team hotel which should have been 20 minutes north of Netanya, one of the four venues being used for the competition.

The fact that the journey took one hour and 20 minutes is a tale many travellers will relate to. It is an occupational hazard that routes from airports, stadia and team hotels are always on the busiest highways. The lengthy trip was not a problem. What happened shortly afterwards was...

My laptop, a key component of a job like mine, expired. Thanks to the initiative of our production manager, Joff White, a replacement arrived within 24 hours. But there was another challenge...

All the instructions were, and still are, in Hebrew. It turned out to be an excellent way to make friends with the locals, who could not have been more helpful. Nevertheless this blog being able to reach you is something of a technological and linguistic miracle!

"The organisation has been very acceptable and the climate wonderful with the warmth of the day easing for the players come the evening kick-offs. Though Premier League clubs are generous with food for working media, none could match the fare in Jerusalem Press Centre with an array of aubergines, sweet potatoes and other roasted vegetables, fresh fruit, and for those of us with a sweet tooth, delicious pastries."

Martin Tyler

This is the fourth Finals in a row for England which is an achievement in itself. No other nation has managed that. It is the fourth for coach Stuart Pearce and most of his backroom staff and for us on Sky Sports. I am sure it will be the most competitive and most glamorous.

England have already felt the force of Italy (lost 1-0) and the upcoming crucial fixture against Norway is not to be under-estimated. The countries met in the qualifying Group and though England won on both occasions the games could have easily gone the other way.

Also in Group A are the hosts and they played with plenty of heart and pace in securing a point in their opener against Norway.

Group B is a real toughie but Spain and the Netherlands have already put down markers with first-up victories. Russia and Germany both showed they have enough about them to bounce back.

Fruity fare

The Israelis are rightly proud of UEFA's decision to award them this competition. Football-wise, we are in Europe, though geographically it is Asia. As a footballing nation they have been bumped around various international confederations.

The organisation has been very acceptable and the climate wonderful with the warmth of the day easing for the players come the evening kick-offs. Though Premier League clubs are generous with food for working media, none could match the fare in Jerusalem Press Centre with an array of aubergines, sweet potatoes and other roasted vegetables, fresh fruit, and for those of us with a sweet tooth, delicious pastries.

Alan and I have been driven to and from games. The car is so small that we call it the "peanut", but the driver Eran makes the journeys quick and funny. He reminds me of Ian Wright with a raucous infectious laugh and I think a similar look. Alan. Ian's former strike partner, doesn't see it at all!

He thinks I am mad and anyway I have to go now because he wants to turn out the light...

Martin will be commentating throughout the tournament and will also be writing blogs during his stay in Israel.

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