Daily Mirror June 8th 1996
MIND-bender Uri Geller today urges Mirror readers to use THEIR
powers to take England to victory in Euro '96.
The master of the paranormal has "energised" the famous orange ball used in the nation's 1966 World Cup win, which we brought back to Britain six weeks ago.
At 3.00pm today-when England kick off against Switzerland in the opening match of the three-week soccer feast- Uri says look at our picture of the ball, rub it...and think of our lads. The result could be sensational.
Soccer-mad Uri tells readers: "I have filled the ball with my positive energy."
"Touch and rub the picture and concentrate for two minutes on England winning."
"Just keep thinking 'They can win, they can win,' and you can help them to victory. You can even bend the ball towards the goal if you try hard enough."
"If you're going to the match take the Mirror with you. Shout and chant-but think hard about the power of your mind as well."
Uri, 49, believes the World Cup ball is especially lucky. It symbolises our greatest sporting moment and has special "psychic" powers because of its colour.
Now the mind-bender is trying to organise a meeting with the England squad today to help psyche them up for the big game.
Uri said: "It would be good for the England team just to touch the ball, because I've touched it."
"It will put them in a positive frame of mind. It will give
them adrenaline, physical energy and increase their sharpness
and speed of mind. It's an extra edge."
Uri knows all about how his extraordinary powers can help sporting heroes.
In the 70s, boxing champ Muhammad Ali turned to him for help. And, two years ago, he helped guide Reading FC to the most successful season in the club's 124-year history.
Uri added: "In the 1994 World Cup final, millions of Brazilians were urging Italy's Baggio to miss in the penalty shoot-out."
"Baggio knocked the ball up into the air like a UFO going into the atmosphere. They wanted him to miss and he did. That's the power of millions of minds."
Euro 96 is the third largest sports event in the world, topped only by the Olympics and the World Cup.
It is costing the FA £18 million to stage the tournament. But the event will attract an estimated 250,000 visitors to the country, who will spend about £125 million during their stay.
A total of 1.4 million fans will crowd into stadiums to watch the 31 matches played over 23 days.
They will be joined by a massive 6.9billion viewers glued to TV sets across the globe. Euro 96 is an even bigger TV event than the last World Cup. It will be screened in 194 countries-six more than World Cup USA-94.
The 16 teams taking part in the finals will be competing for a total prise fund of £47 million-and for glory. As fever for the soccer festival mounted last night, bookies said they expect between £100 million and £120 million to be placed on Euro 96.
Ladbrokes said: "Euro 96 will be Britain's biggest ever betting event. We've taken thousands of bets on each of the 16 teams this week-but England are much the best backed."
"The biggest bet so far has been a cash bet of £10,000 in a London betting shop, and the money is still pouring in."
William Hill said one person has bet £16,500 on Italy to win at 5-1. Another has bet- £10,000 on England at 13-2.
Support for England flooded in last night.
Virgin boss Richard Branson who is half Scottish, said he would offer both England and Scotland players a free flight anywhere in the world if their national teams won.
Former England skipper Emlyn Hughes said: "We all need to get behind England."
Football crazy EastEnders star Barbara Windsor promised the England squad drinks all round if they win.
She said: "They can come to the Queen Vic and we'll give them a heroes' welcome."
"I really hope they do well-it would be so wonderful to see.
This country needs to experience 1966 all over again."
Top athlete Kriss Akabussi said: "I think they've got a good chance of getting into the semifinals. From then on, it will be all about who has the most nerve."
And film-maker Michael Winner added: "I think the squad could be the only people to bring back the goodwill factor into the country."
Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs is rooting for the boys from his home in Rio.
He said: "I'm sure they'll win. It could be the best stick-up since the robbery."
Veteran rock stars Status Quo have even changed the timings of a European tour to make sure they can see the games.
The Euro 96 opening ceremony will start with a "Merrie England'' carnival sequence featuring 320 dancers.
There will be a demonstration of football through the ages. Then players from England's hall of fame will be presented, including Sir Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves, Gary Lineker Glenn Hoddle, Jack Charlton and Sir Bobby Charlton.
Sir Stanley will unveil a 35ft high replica of the European Championship Trophy.
Local children from schools in the Wembley area will enter the stadium to represent the 16 competing nations, and 16 giant national flags will be unfurled to cover the pitch.
Mick Hucknall and his band Simply Red will perform the tournament's anthem We're In This Together.
Thomas Ince, four-year-old son of England's Paul, will bring on the ball for the opening game. Caspar Schmeichel, nine-year old son of Denmark's Peter Schmeichel and Nicolai Laudrup, seven-year-old son of Denmark's Brian Laudrup, will bring on the Euro 96 trophy.
After the boys hand the trophy to UEFA, the Duke of Kent will
officially declare the finals open.
A giant replica of the trophy will then open, releasing 40,000 balloons into the sky.
One person missing from the ceremonies will be Premier John Major. He was invited to Wembley, but decided to stay at home in Huntingdon.
Yesterday, he issued a statement wishing both England and Scotland well.
Labour leader Tony Blair WILL be at the big game.
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