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Life comes full circle: Cristiano Ronaldo set to face 11 players from academy he inaugurated

Life comes full circle: Cristiano Ronaldo set to face 11 players from academy he inaugurated

The Al-Nassr superstar visited Georgia in 2013 to inaugurate the academy, and a photo of him with the then-young players, now stars, is going viral

It is said that life comes full circle and that will be the case during the Portugal vs Georgia clash in UEFA Euro 2024 tonight. Eleven players from Dinamo Tbilisi’s academy, inaugurated by Cristiano Ronaldo, are set to face Portugal tonight. Georgia will take on Portugal on June 26 at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, with a Round of 16 berth on the line.

Dinamo Tbilisi’s academy has long been a crucial part of the Georgian national team, but the 2013 inauguration marked a turning point for the country’s football. The Al-Nassr superstar visited Georgia in 2013 to inaugurate the academy, and a photo of him with the then-young players, now stars, is going viral. Among those young talents, now standout players for club and country, are Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Bordeaux’s Zuriko Davitashvili, and Valencia’s Giorgi Mamardashvili.

Key squad members like Giorgi Chakvetadze, Anzor Mekvabishvili, and Giorgi Kochorashvili were also part of the academy in 2013. These players were pivotal in helping Georgia qualify for their first-ever major tournament, beating Greece 4-2 in a playoff penalty shootout. However, the tournament has been tough for Georgia so far.

Can Georgia qualify for EURO 2024 Round of 16

They lost 3-1 to Turkiye in their opening game and drew 1-1 against Czechia in their second match. Metz forward Georges Mikautadze has scored both of Georgia’s goals in the tournament and will be crucial against Portugal.

A win in their final group stage game is essential for Georgia’s chances of advancing to the knockout stage. The Dinamo academy graduates will be especially motivated, facing Ronaldo, who likely inspired them at the start of their careers. Playing against their idol in such a critical match adds an emotional layer to their journey, highlighting the growth and potential of Georgian football fostered by Dinamo Tbilisi’s academy.

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