Danone Nations Cup
7 Sep 2013
Saturday saw Wembley Stadium host a hard-fought Danone Nations Cup World Final, as some of the world’s best young stars showcased their skills in front of thousands of supporters with France edging Brazil to the title after a penalty shootout.
The two sides contested the final following the knockout stages in the days beforehand at Surrey Sports Park.
More than 400 children, aged between 10 and 12, travelled to London with their families from 32 countries, and they were given huge support from a lively Wembley audience.
It’s a tournament regarded as the biggest of its kind, a unique event that has been an inspiration for millions of children from around the world for 14 years.
During the day, Danone Nations Cup international ambassador Zinedine Zidane, gave his thoughts on the continuing success of the tournament.
“They are very lucky to have this opportunity to travel and share fantastic experiences against other nations,” said the 41-year-old. “To play at Wembley Stadium is amazing.”
The former Real Madrid star and France international was given a great reception wherever he went, and he added: “It’s always great to be recognised by young kids even though they have not seen me live because they were too young.”
Zidane, who won the World Cup with France in 1998 following a 3-0 rout over Brazil, joked that none of the youngsters at the Danone Nations Cup needed advice, especially those from South America.
“To be honest they [Brazil] don’t need any advice. I have seen a couple already who have caught the eye. I don’t have any advice because they are already very talented. They give us advice, just to watch doing what they do.”
The day proved to be a huge education for the young players in front of a loud Wembley crowd, and there was no doubting that they relished their moment in the spotlight and left with some inspiring memories.
Even when games went to penalty shoot-outs, of which Wembley Stadium has seen a few over the years, players held their nerve, some even demonstrating well rehearsed goal celebrations with their jubilant teammates.
England won their match at the World Final, overcoming Russia 3-0 in a game they dominated following a nervous opening spell - understandable given the huge local support from thousands of enthusiastic fans.
And England ambassadors John Scales and Thomas Ince were there to witness the young lions triumph in their big moment, before the Final between France and Brazil.
Recalling his own memorable final for France against Brazil in 1998, Zidane said that it was “fantastic” to win against such a great side, before adding, “I hope France win,” prior to them taking to the field against a hugely talented young Brazilian outfit.
Ireland were beaten 2-0 by Japan in the battle for third, minutes before France and Brazil battled out a goalless draw which saw three players from each side take on responsibility from the spot.
And when France scored the final penalty, the team wheeled away in celebration as they were crowned champions.