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Israeli song kick-starts soccer tourney

‘I hope it becomes a hit around the world,’ says singer Eyal Golan, ahead of Euro Under-21 in Israel

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Play on time, be prepared, and act respectfully — those are three of the messages in the official song for the Under-21 European soccer championships to be hosted next month in Israel.

“I hope it becomes a hit around the world,” said Israeli singer Eyal Golan at the launch.

Titled “Always My No. 1,” the song — preformed by Golan, himself a semi-professional soccer player who’s played in a number of teams in Israel’s lower divisions — was released Monday.

The song delivers an educational statement, with the opening sentence describing “the stars of tomorrow/running on the pitch to the finals.” Golan asks the athletes to “Play on time, be prepared/and show respect — it’s my sport,” before reminding everyone that, at the end, “We’ll all laugh, it’s just a game.”

At a launch event in Tel Aviv, Golan said the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) had given him a list of “the messages they want in the song.” The singer said it took seven months of writing, recording and rewriting until the organization gave its approval.

“I hope we play like the song sounds,” Guy Luzon, Israel’s Under-21 national coach told the One sports network. The coach said his players were hyped about the upcoming games, and called on the crowd to come out and support the blue-and-white team.

For the tournament, Israel was pooled in Group A with Norway and powerhouses England and Italy. Group B features the remaining countries that are participating in the tournament — Holland, Germany and Russia — along with Spain, which won in 2011 and is considered a favorite in the upcoming games as well.

As the host country, Israel did not have to go through the qualifying rounds, but rather received a free ticket to participate in the tournament, which showcases the best players of the Continent for the top teams to see.

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