The European Championship reaches its climax today when reigning world champion France plays upstart Italy in the final in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
It's possible that the coaches, Roger Lemerre of France and Dino Zoff of Italy, and their players will have something memorable to say after it's all over, but they'll have a tough time topping some of the remarks already uttered during the three-week tournament.
What follows is a baker's dozen of the more intriguing Euro 2000 comments voiced so far:
* Spain's coach, Jose Antonio Camacho, showing a philosophical side while analyzing his team's ouster in the quarterfinals:
"I learned not to dramatize football a long time ago. The team went as far it could, and played with total commitment. If the opposition was better, or luckier, well, that's football."
* Frank Rijkaard, the Netherlands' coach who won the European Championship as a player in 1988 but resigned after the Dutch were knocked out by Italy in this year's semifinals:
"I had this decision in mind two years ago when I took this job. The book is closed. I feel terrible for the players, but it's a law in football that when something like this happens it's time for someone else to take over."
* Goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, speaking before shutting out the Netherlands for 120 minutes and allowing Italy to reach its first European Championship final since 1968:
"We'll try to make a lovely fruit juice out of this Dutch clockwork orange."
* Kevin Keegan, England's coach, whose crystal ball obviously needs polishing:
"I can't see Italy spoiling the party for Holland."
* Romanian captain Gheorghe Hagi, bitter about being tossed out of his final international game, a quarterfinal loss to Italy, after a crude foul followed moments later by a blatant dive:
"It doesn't matter that I got two yellow cards, but it is a scandal what happened. You could see from an airplane that it was a penalty. The Italian defender deserved a red, not me a yellow. Why do we bother coming here? Robbing us like that just isn't fair."
* Midfielder Antonio Conte, the Italian player Hagi chopped down to earn the first of his yellow cards:
"His foul was premeditated. He intended to hurt me. I have no doubt the foul was meant to break my leg."
* Chea Sophara, the municipal governor of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after police had closed dozens of illegal betting shops that were doing brisk business on Euro 2000 games:
"Gambling is the right of the people."
* German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, offering support for much-criticized defender Lothar Matthaeus:
"I know from my own personal experience that success has many fathers but that when it comes to failure, one is often left holding the baby."
* Matthaeus, 39, World Cup winner in 1990 and first-round loser in 2000, responding to German teammates who said he never should have been selected for Euro 2000:
"I have never played in a more characterless team in 21 years as a professional. In hindsight, I'm sorry I even took part."
* Spacapan Crtomir, mayor of Nova Gorica, a small Slovenian town near the Italian border, after unheralded Slovenia had tied Yugoslavia, lost by a single goal to Spain and tied Norway:
"We are often mixed up with Slovakia and no one knows where we are, but after this tournament we'll be known around Europe."
* Germany Coach Erich Ribbeck, responding to a plot by his disgruntled players to oust him just before the tournament started:
"They didn't even have the courage to criticize anything during our team meetings. These gentlemen were too cowardly even for that. Everything was done behind my back."
* Jacques van Gompel, mayor of the Belgian town of Charleroi, relieved that hooligan violence had not taken a worse toll:
"The stands did not collapse, the town was not destroyed and there were no deaths."
* France goalkeeper Fabian Barthez, who has the bizarre tradition of having a teammate kiss the top of his bald head just before the kickoff of each game:
"They say great teams have luck. Maybe we are becoming a great team."
Today will tell.
HOLD THAT ROSTER
Last week was not a good one for U.S. men's Olympic team Coach Clive Charles.
First there was the matter of that supposedly erroneous report on ExtraTime, Major League Soccer's hourlong show that airs each Monday evening on ESPN2.
According to analyst Jeff Bradley on last week's program, Charles has selected D.C. United defender Jeff Agoos, Chicago Fire midfielder Chris Armas and Bayer Leverkusen winger Frankie Hejduk as the three "over-age" players he will take with him to Sydney.
Not so, Charles countered in no uncertain terms the next day, saying he had not made any final decisions and will not announce his Olympic roster until August.
Then came more bad news when the coach learned that his starting goalkeeper, Adin Brown of the Colorado Rapids, was going under the knife. Brown will be sidelined for two to three weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday afternoon.