With Euro 2016 officially upon us, we phoned in some help from footballer, athlete, celebrity and journalist GFOPs around the globe for a temperature check on their home countries (or countries for which they have an affinity). This is our Euro 2016 GFOP Roundtable Preview...
Christian Fuchs/Austria Captain, Leicester City Defender
We are hours away from the tournament beginning and we at the Austria camp are very excited to finally be underway. We are qualified for the first time in the history of the Austrian FA. Everybody is excited. Not only the players, also the whole Austrian nation. It seems to me that it is a historical year overall for me. Winning the Premier League with Leicester City and now participating at the EURO for the first time. And I also want to compare the spirit of both teams. We are enjoying being together. We give everything on the field for each other and having fun doing that. The same off the field. It is very pleasant to hang out with the boys and enjoy the moment. Since Marcel Koller took over a couple of years ago he changed a lot. We are playing very attractive soccer with big intensity. Our way of playing is to press the opposition and force them to early errors. So you guys can expect a lot of fast running from us. But with the EURO in France my personal soccer season isn't over at all. Last year since moving to NY I set up my football Fox Soccer Academy with my wife. This runs in New York and New Jersey. It is the second year that Fox Soccer Academy takes place and I am very excited for the first day of camp to arrive. I will actually be standing/training on the field with all the kids and I cannot wait!
I will continue to write these diaries throughout the Euros so you guys can see how we are getting on from inside the Austria national team.
Republic of Ireland
Sheamus/Four-Time WWE World Heavyweight Champion
I'm feeling actually pretty good about this tournament. It looked for a bit that we weren't going to qualify against Poland; and the fact that we made it is always an accomplishment. I really think that there are no expectations. The Irish fans will have a lot of fun, and because of that I think a lot of great things can happen. Some of the bigger teams like, Spain, Portugal, England and Germany, have so much pressure on them. And because there's no pressure on us, magic can happen... And that's how underdog stories are told. I'm just excited that there is no stand out team; anything can happen. I feel like this European Championship is kind of like the Premier League this year. It's anyone's game. It's not about the individuals, it's about the team. Maybe Ireland will be the next Leicester City. I'm also looking forward to seeing Ronaldo not take his shirt off for once. He's the best, but the most annoying player in the world. Glory hound. The goal is to see him not take his shirt off and do us all a favor. No one wants to see the largest nipples in the world.
Marcin Gortat/Washington Wizards Center
I am really excited for Euro 2016. Our national team is really strong this year. I think we have a good chance to take first in our group, which will be our goal. Obviously Robert Lewandowski is a player to watch and is one of the best strikers in the soccer world at the moment. Also midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak and defender Lukasz Piszczek. I think Arkadiusz Milik will play the best tournament of his life.
I should know better…. but I always expect England to reach the semi-finals of major tournaments. And I do know better, I watch a lot of football from all over Europe and I know Spain, Italy and Germany will have their own Dele Allis and Harry Kanes but I still, like everyone else in England, think we have a team that could go all the way. Sadly, I’ve been disappointed many times but remain a huge England fan and always will be. I can only imagine what it must feel like to wear The Three Lions. #GSTQ
Marcus Samuelsson/Chef and Restaurateur
I have no hopes. Zlatan is old but he's still my man. No other Swedish has brought me more joy than Zlatan over the years. But no hope. We're in transition.*
*Marcus joins Men in Blazers: Euro2000&Copa Tuesday, June 14 at 5 p.m. ET on VICESPORTS.
Ersan Ilyasova/Orlando Magic Power Forward
It's truly very exciting for me to see the Turkish team make EURO 2016. As a national Turkish team player myself, I understand how hard it is to achieve that level and it makes me very proud for my country and my people. I know they will do great since they have a good team with a lot of great players. I know the championship is going to be very challenging for them. There are many great teams they will be playing against. I definitely will be watching all the games and supporting them all the way.
Nat Motte/3OH!3, Creator of MiB MLS Sting
My mother is French, and my father is a professor of French literature. This year the French enter the European Championship as one of the favorite sides to win the competition, playing on home soil. With young, dynamic, attacking players like Paul Pogba, Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial, teamed with players coming into their own at the perfect time in Dimitri Payet, N’Golo Kante and Antoine Griezmann, and a solid goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris, could France win these Euros, adding to their 1984 and 2000 victories? I have a theory that all musicians secretly want to be sports stars, and that all sports stars secretly want to be musicians. Mine is not much of a secret, and I’m fairly certain that I would trade all of my modest success as a musician for winning a World Cup as a soccer player. In a Rog-esque brutal collision with reality, I’ve realized that the closest I’ll ever be able to get is rooting fanatically for mes gars and the Tricolore. This June and July 2016, Color Me Badd, Color Me Mine, Color Me Je Ne Sais Quoi, but most of all, color me BLEU, BLANC ET ROUGE—ALLEZ LES BLEUS !
Paul Kalkbrenner/Music Producer
In my opinion this year's German football team is the strongest squad DFB ever sent to a tournament. So you do the math.
Jack Williams/The New York Times, The Guardian, Eight by Eight Contributor
It’s hard to know what to expect from a team that has not made it to a major championship in my (or even my parents’) lifetime. Every inkling I have about the tournament says, “Just enjoy it. You might not be back for a while.” But after a qualifying campaign built on resolute defense and the attacking qualities of Bale and Ramsey, a disciplined Wales should, I think, be able to make it past Russia and Slovakia and reach the knockout rounds of the tournament. Against England? Well, that’s a different matter. With many pundits having Wales down as scraping out of the group stage at best, I’d like to know how many fans would take group stage elimination and a scrappy victory over the Three Lions -- the memories and bragging rights that come with it -- over, say, a loss to England, advancement, and defeat in the early knockout rounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage was quite high for the "Beating England" option.
This article originally appeared in the June 10th issue of our newsletter, The Raven. Subscribe HERE.