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This summer, 24 countries will meet in France, each with the same goal: to be crowned Europe’s top football team. Victory will necessitate collective team excellence, a result that invariably requires individual brilliance from each of the triumphant nation’s players.
For four players, representing four nations, this responsibility will be top of mind as the tournament approaches. Belgium’s #edenhazard, Spain’s Gerard #piqu, France’s Blaise Matuidi and England’s #danielsturridge may hail from different countries, but each is united by an unrelenting devotion to football. Like all #nike F.C. members, they don’t just play football — they live it.
“Football is my life today and it has been part of my daily life since I was five years old,” #matuidi says. “That’s the way it's always been, with a ball at my feet. I would say that it's even more than a passion. I am proud to be a professional footballer. It is not the job that inspires me — it is the joy I have in playing football.”
This joy extends off pitch, as the players will celebrate the beautiful game by wearing the new #nike F.C. collection. For the first time, the offering includes four sport-style shoes that mirror each of the four #nike football silos: Mercurial, #magista, #hypervenom and #tiempo. Hazard, #matuidi, Sturridge and #piqu will be able to match their off-pitch shoe with their on-pitch boot. Which boot, and player, will dominate the tournament is anyone’s guess.
Gerard Piqué’s Spanish team is pushing for an unprecedented third straight European triumph. The Barcelona defender appreciates that many “pundits” believe his squad is far from the favorites, but he has a markedly different point of view.
“We have undergone important changes,” #piqu says. “Major players have left the team. Nevertheless, I think others have made the step up and we will be good enough to have a chance of winning it again.”
If #piqu and Spain hope to retain their title, however, they’ll have to trump the hosts, who have a partisan home crowd behind them. This is an advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated, according to #matuidi.
“Of course playing at home is an advantage,” #matuidi declares. “Not everyone has this luxury. I think that this will be something special, something that we will never forget — of course we need to play our part in inspiring a crazy atmosphere in France.”
For #matuidi, pulling on his national jersey inspires, never intimidates. “We try to represent a country, a nation. It is true that during the Marseillaise, there is always a special feeling, a great honor, a great pride that I feel at that moment.”
England’s #danielsturridge will feel that same pride when donning his country’s iconic Three Lions. But for the talented striker, this summer is about so much more than just being there.
“The one thing I'm looking forward to the most about the tournament is putting on that England shirt with pride and fighting for success,” he says. “I don't just want to do okay. Everyone wants to win and that's what I hope to help my country achieve.”
Sturridge’s professional rival, #edenhazard, will be up for the fight, too. His team, Belgium, is packed with talent and many people’s top contender. But according to Hazard, winning is only part of the equation.
“When I play one game, it doesn't matter if it's for my country or for my club, or even when I'm in the garden with my kids. I just want to play. I just want to enjoy it,” Hazard explains. “This is why I play football. We have a good team with Belgium. We don’t know how far we will go, but we will enjoy the #competition and try to be the best team in Europe.”
Whatever happens, these players’ dedication to football will endure. Matches will be won and lost, but like all those who wear #nike F.C, the love of the game will never diminish.
NIKE F.C. FOOTWEAR
NIKE #tiempo VETTA
A luxury remix of Nike’s classic football boot, the #nike #tiempo Vetta features an exaggerated, fold-over tongue and molded heel counter. “I really identify with my #tiempo boots because I've played with them since I was very young,” #piqu reveals. “They're the most elegant boots around. Having something that can showcase my personality off the field, like these sneakers, is really great for me.”
NIKE AIR FOOTSCAPE MAGISTA
Designed for unstoppable playmaking on the pitch, the #nike #magista football boot is reengineered for everyday wear with the Air Footscape Freemotion tooling. “At the beginning, I was a little apprehensive about this shoe,” #matuidi says. “But now I cannot live without them.”
NIKE FREE MERCURIAL SUPERFLY
Matching its explosive speed on the pitch, the #nike Free #mercurialsuperfly features a Flyknit upper for a sock-like fit and a #nike Free outsole for flexible comfort. “I just want to wear good, beautiful sneakers,” Hazard says. “I wear the Mercurial in football and now I can wear this type of shoe off the pitch. It’s good to have that consistency.”
NIKE FREE #hypervenom 2
Nike’s most agile football boot is re-mastered for the street with a #nike Free outsole and Flyknit upper. “Basketball players have shoes they can wear on court, but they also have shoes they can wear off it,” Sturridge says. “So it’s nice to now have the same in football. When you have a lifestyle shoe off the pitch, you can roll out, feel comfortable and represent the shoe you wear when playing.”
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