Written by 19:24 World

Euro 2024: Georgia Falls to Turkey in Thrilling Debut

Georgia’s road to its first game in the European soccer championship had been a long one, more than 30 years in the making. So when it finally arrived on Tuesday, no one wanted to miss out.

In Germany, that excitement was evident among the thousands of fans who filled the streets on a rain-soaked day in Dortmund and then flowed like a red-and-white river into the stadium. In Tbilisi, thousands more braved the heat to gather in the city’s parks and squares to watch their team play Turkey. More pressed into one of the main stadiums in the capital, where giant video screens had been erected.

And then there was the man on the scooter.

He had surprised Georgia’s national team at its German training base on Saturday, puttering to a stop after a 12-day journey that had covered more than 4,000 kilometers (about 2,500 miles). Ushered onto the field by team officials before a training session, the man spoke briefly to the players and then unzipped his large blue backpack to reveal its precious cargo: a huge Georgian flag covered with messages of support from well-wishers back home.

“People in Georgia only talk about the football and the achievement we accomplished, and this energy is crazy,” the Georgia captain, Guram Kashia, said on the eve of the match.

Georgia is the lowest-ranked team at Euro 2024, but that reality has done little to dim its pride. In more than three decades as an independent nation, it had never before qualified for a major international tournament.

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Last modified: 20 June 2024
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