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Nimni thrilled as U21 finals come to Israel

Thursday 13 December 2012 12.45 CET
UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals ambassador Avi Nimni

Israel will stage its biggest UEFA final tournament next summer, the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, and finals ambassador Avi Nimni – capped 80 times as a midfielder – believes his home country is in for a treat from 5 to 18 June.

"It's a big success for Israeli football to bring the U21 EURO to Israel," said the 40-year-old, who played abroad for Club Atlético de Madrid and Derby County FC but spent his best years in Israel with Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Beitar Jerusalem FC.

"I think it is a very big challenge, in terms of organisation, to cooperate with UEFA and make this tournament go smoothly. We want to show that we've upgraded ourselves, not only on the pitch, but also off the pitch. It's sure to be quite an occasion for a country that has never before hosted a major international football tournament."

Hosts Israel are in Group A along with England, Norway and Italy, with holders Spain in Group B alongside the Netherlands, Russia and Germany. The football is sure to be riveting, though Nimni stresses that players and visiting fans will find much more to amuse them besides in host cities Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Netanya.

"They can be certain that they will enjoy great weather, and they can surely mix some football with some nightlife and daytime fun around the beaches," he explained. "In terms of football, they will find new stadiums, great atmosphere, and I believe they will enjoy a top-level tournament."

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