Football Commentator & Columnist
Martin Tyler meets Julen Lopetegui before U21 Championship final
Martin Tyler blogs on Israel's love of retro music and looks ahead to Tuesday's U21 Championship final.
Last Updated: 16/06/13 11:05am
Sir Cliff Richard will be out here soon, closely followed by Barbra Streisand. Our hotel has been piping out the hits of the fifties and sixties to the delight of your correspondent who remembers more of the words than any other, admittedly more youthful, members of the Sky Sports team.
You could even re-christen the sides which reached the last four of the Uefa Under 21 Finals with a nod towards pop music history. They have been the Beach Boys.
Cor Pot, the Dutch Head Coach, felt the need to tell the world that he and his players were not here for a holiday. Yet the great coastline and Mediterranean waters were a great source of relaxation for his squad. Norway, where the winters are long and hard, also lapped up the sunshine and the surf with little detriment to their performances.
Spain allowed Patrick Davidson and myself into their seaside hotel in Herzliya and showed a perfect blend of professionalism and use of downtime. The mood came from the top. Julen Lopetegui, the manager, joked that as an ex-goalkeeper he was probably too crazy for the job. Too cheery would be a better description.
He generously and sociably gave us time to explain how his country have been so successful. He pointed out that Del Bosque who has taken the senior squad to the Confederations Cup in Brazil wanted De Gea, Isco and Thiago to be with the Under 21s because they would get more game time.
England take note.
His players fully embraced the experience of the media coming inside their camp. Rodrigo, the Brazilian-born Benfica striker, reminisced about his time on loan at Bolton. David de Gea easily chatted about the possibility of a television interview in English.
In Thiago, Patrick got the full package for his pre semi-final interview.-a beautiful location, a top player, fluent in English and a charming young man. The Barcelona midfielder was also shrewd enough to avoid being pictured holding a fan's Manchester United shirt.
The judgement on any way of preparing is usually made after the event depending on the result. Spain's laid back approach paid off though they only shrugged aside a gutsy Norway with late goals in both halves.
The Netherlands lost to a well-organized Italy which raised questions of whether they had spent too much time in the sun. Closer examination will tell you that an injury to a key defender and his replacement being caught cold cost them their chance of a place in the Final.
Liverpool's Fabio Borini made the most of his opportunity, much to Patrick's delight because the hero to be interviewed happened to be the only known English speaker in the Italian squad.
So we have a Spain - Italy Under 21 Final a year on from the same two countries contesting the climax of 2012.
It is a shame that Sir Cliff wasn't booked as part of Tuesday's closing ceremony.
I can't think of anything more musically appropriate for the nostalgic Israeli audience and the nature of this competition - which boasts with justification that it showcases the stars of today and the superstars of tomorrow - than a rousing rendition of The Young Ones!!