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  Euro Stars    Kevin Kuranyi


Kuranyi brings Latin flair to German attack
Kevin Kuranyi
Kevin Kuranyi's emergence as a German international has added spice to a side not often associated with exotic flair.

Kuranyi, who holds not only a German passport but also Brazilian and Panamanian ones, made his big breakthrough last season when his goals helped VfB Stuttgart to a surprise second place in the Bundesliga.

Germany coach Rudi Voeller soon took notice, picking the athletic forward for a game against Lithuania in March last year. Ten caps have followed and Kuranyi has become an automatic choice.

"He is one of the most exciting young talents we have," Voeller says of the 22-year-old Kuranyi.

This season has brought Champions League experience and while his form dipped for Stuttgart this season, nobody questions his potential and the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal should provide a perfect stage for his skills.

Kuranyi broke into the Stuttgart first team at the start of the 2001-02 season after impressing at a training camp.

But after a handful of matches, in which he scored once, he was sent back to the amateur team.

"I was not really focused and I didn't train hard enough," he said of his first spell in the Bundesliga.

When his chance came again, at the start of last season, he was ready.

Kuranyi was born in Rio de Janeiro to a German father and a Panamanian mother and honed his skills playing on the famous Copacabana beach as a child. After growing up in Brazil and Panama he moved to Stuttgart when he was 15.

"My father wanted me to learn German and study in Germany," he said.

While remaining clever and unpredictable, Kuranyi has matured to become also an unselfish forward unafraid of physical challenge.

"I've got German discipline and Brazilian technique," he says of himself.

That combination is great news for Germany, already warming up for the 2006 World Cup on home soil and in need of a touch of flair to go with their more traditional qualities.

"I'm German now but deep in my heart I still feel Brazilian," Kuranyi said. "You can't beat the sun and Copacabana."

Although there is not much Brazilian-style sun or sand in Cologne on a wet day in March, Kuranyi was still able to shine. He scored in Germany's 3-0 friendly win over Belgium there -- a promise of some golden moments ahead perhaps in the sunshine of Portugal.
- Patrick Vignal




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