The Olympic Games has often provided the platform for future stars of world football to showcase their talents on the global stage.
In recent years, the competition has featured the likes of Robinho (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), all of whom have grabbed the headlines at the very top of the game.
Barcelona icon Messi, for example, inspired his nation to gold in the men's competition at Beijing 2008 at the age of 21 - before going on to be named the FIFA World Player of the Year three times in a row.
The men's Olympic football competition is effectively run as an under-23 World Cup, with teams allowed to select only three players over the age of 23 in their final squads.
Many countries use the Olympics as a way of giving young players tournament experience ahead of playing in continental championships or the World Cup. However, the presence of professional players at the Games was only seen for the first time in 1984.
To that point, only amateurs were allowed and the competition was dominated by countries such as Hungary and the Soviet Union.
The sport was first played as a demonstration event at Paris 1900 and again at St Louis 1904, and it was not until London 1908 that the first official medal event was staged.
The women's competition, meanwhile, was not added to the schedule until Atlanta 1996 and does not feature the same age restrictions as the men's event.
In the setting of the Olympics, there is little discernible difference from the sport that is played competitively in more than 200 countries worldwide, as two teams of 11 players battle it out over the 90 minutes of action.
In the men's event, 16 teams are split into four groups with the top two from each qualifying for the knockout stages. In the women's competition, 12 teams play in three groups, with the top two plus the two best third-placed teams progressing.
Extra-time and penalty shootouts are used to decide drawn matches during the knockout stages.
Thursday July 26, Old Trafford
Sunday July 29, Wembley Stadium
Wednesday Aug 1, Millennium Stadium
with ireland and the scotish having a stick up there back sdie about team GB i really do hope we get a medal just to show them that you really did miss out because ireland and the scottish fa are so far up there own back sides they dont know which way is up.
they think just because its a GB team they will lose there little identity what they have how pathetic at least us english and people from wales are not that small minded i forget how the scots like to say how they are scottish when they win and english when they lose ANDY MURRAY anybody yes i know he is in the tennisGB team but really if he wins he will see it as a scottish victory the blokes a idiot and if things go like normal he will finish up with a bronze at the most .
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