So, Italy, ranked at number 10 by FIFA coming into the tournament managed to beath 4th placed England in the Euros and emerge as the champions. They beat huge odds and set the record for the longest time spent before winning the Euros again since their last win 53 years ago. Their performance is the best summary of what Euro 2020 looked like. Lots of entertainment, disappointment and valour were displayed by both young and experienced players all across the 24 countries represented at the tournament. You can always expect surprises when it comes to European football, but even the best predictors in the world couldn’t prepare for these 10 moments that went down as the most memorable moments in Euro 2020.
Italy Lifting The Trophy
Bookmarkers didn’t trust Italy to win the Euro 2020 before the tournament until they hit the ground running with their smooth win over Turkey and the two other group stage matches. The Azzurri had not lifted the trophy since their lucky win in 1968. However, after seeing off Belgium and Spain who were the two favourites by most bookmarkers, it became clear that they really meant business and England would have to put up their strongest fight of the tournament if they were to take the trophy. The penalties saw the Azzurri keep their deserved trophy and everyone had to agree that it was “going to Rome and not coming home.” The moments of the name ‘ITALY’ being written on the trophy and Italy setting a record for the longest time spent before winning the tournament a second time were the timeless moments of Euro 2020.
Bukayo Saka’s Penalty
Aged just 19 and having amazed at club level, Bukayo Saka became the youngest Englishman ever named in the starting lineup of a Euro semifinal and he didn’t disappoint. His performance in the Euros was the best of any teenager in the 24 teams and being the wonder kid of the tournament, everyone hoped he would see England through their last penalty and lift the cup. However, the pressure of carrying the hope of the entire country and over 60,000 fans on his shoulders proved too much and the youngster’s penalty was an easy save for Gianluigi Donnarumma. His devastation was obvious and even the coach came in immediately to console him because the 19-year-old’s confidence was shattered. He was still praised for his bravery in accepting to take such a pressure penalty and even Italy’s goalkeeper understood and didn’t celebrate saving that penalty.
Eriksen Collapsing On The Pitch
From Simon Kjaer helping Eriksen breathe to the entire Denmark team creating a shield around their teammate, no one could forget Eriksen’s collapse on the field. The former Tottenham midfielder had suffered a cardiac arrest in the course of play. The incident shocked the whole world with everyone fearing the worst while hoping for the best and the best did come and he has since been declared to be out of the woods by doctors after being fitted with a pacemaker. The Danish national team turned the incident and the loss of that first match against Finland into a victory story staying in the tournament until their heroic exit in the semis.
Kylian Mbappe’s Penalty Saved
France was the second favourite to take the Euros after Belgium despite being placed in the group of death alongside Germany, Hungary and Portugal. They sailed through the group stages and it seemed as if the worst was over for them when they finished top of the group and were matched against Group A’s third-placed Switzerland in the knockout stages. The Swiss managed to overturn France’s 3:1 win into a draw forcing a penalty shootout. Mbappe being a superstar, was being looked upon to be the national hero as he stood to take the determining penalty but Yann Sommer outsmarted him and that was the last of the French in the Euros. It was one of the most shocking defeats in Euro 2020 and a humiliating moment for Mbappe and all of France.
Harry Kane’s Penalty Against Denmark
The behaviour of England fans during the semifinals against Denmark and even the finals was appalling. The worst of it was when someone shone a laser pointer at Kasper Schmeichel’s face while he was preparing to save the penalty kick by the England skipper. UEFA fined the FA £25,630 for the misbehaviour by fans.
Denmark having earned themselves lots of sympathy after Eriksen’s collapse and even more fans after their amazing performance against Russia and Wales were expected to give England a hard time in the semis. The penalty was controversial and only converted after a rebound by Harry Kane. It meant the end of the road for the Danish, but England’s victory was stained by the doubt and misbehaviour surrounding the penalty.
Ronaldo Removing Coca Cola Bottles
Coca Cola has been linked with the obesity crisis in Europe and the rest of the world, but as Gareth Southgate said, there are worse things out there than a Coke. Paul Pogba continued the saga by removing Heineken bottles instead but other players including Lukaku made fun of the entire thing. Before Cristiano’s action, no one paid much attention to those bottles anyway.
Actually, they didn’t even seem to exist until he told everyone to drink water over soda. His actions caused such a storm though with the world becoming aware of the negative impacts of fizzy drinks on the society. UEFA warned players against that trend though because sponsors are the most important part of any tournament and without them, they couldn’t afford to hold the conference. Coca Cola on the other hand downplayed the incident saying Cr7 could drink whatever he liked. Gareth Southgate solved everything by encouraging people to drink both Coke and Heineken in moderation.
Patrik Schick’s Goal Against Scotland
Scotland had a short disappointing time at the Euros, but none of their three matches was as bad as their match against the Czech Republic. Patrik Shick who ended the tournament with five goals, level with Cristiano Ronaldo, caught David Marshall off his line and scored the longest goal of the tournament. It was voted the goal of the tournament and largely sealed Scotland’s exit from the Euros.
Fans Booing Players For Taking The Knee
By now, everyone knows why players take the knee, and after decades of condemning racial discrimination in European football and all sport, especially in football, you would hope that fans would stand in solidarity with the players. However, during most matches in Hungary and England, players were booed when they took the knee. It became worse in the semis and the finals when UEFA had to initiate disciplinary action against FA for the behaviour of the fans. Racial abuse of black players online after the finals was so disgusting that it forced the UK prime minister to apologize and condemn racism instead of celebrating England’s first final in decades.
Luke Shaw’s Early Goal For England
Luke Shaw set the record for the earliest goal scored in the Euros after scoring in the second minute of the match against Italy. Being a left-back, Shaw doesn’t get to score that many goals in his career which is why setting that record was so important for him and astonishing for the whole world. His goal raised spirits for England fans and made it look as if England would see off Italy and win the trophy until Leonardo Bonucci, another defender and the oldest player in the tournament scored an equalizer for the Azzurri.
The Backlash After England Lost In The Finals
Before the finals, the media was full of praise for the English team and promises of solidarity even if they lost the match, but when they did, the reactions were horrible. The Booing from the stands and the insults on social media turned into racially abusive taunts for the three black players that missed their penalties. Some hooligans went ahead and defaced a memorial of Marcus Rashford in Manchester.
It was hard to imagine that all those things were happening in the UK of all the places. However, the government, media and the British people in general quickly came to the players’ support with lots of encouragement and love for the three youngsters. The government even introduced a bill in parliament that will ensure that those responsible for the racial abuse of players are banned from football forever. All that hate was defeated by the overwhelming love in the end.