The tournament has come to an end and Italy have been crowned Champions after being overall the best team in the Championship.
We will be looking back on some of the sponsorship stories and campaigns that hit the mark during the week but this morning here are ten things that stood out, on a purely subjective basis, to make this a memorable tournament.
1. Christian Eriksen
Youth and sport should be all about peak physical condition but Eriksen’s collapse on the pitch in Denmark’s opening game against Finland was a reminder that health is precious and that life is there to be lived. Thankfully the fast action of medical staff on-site as well as his captain Simon Kjaer meant this story has a positive outcome, and if it encourages more defibrillators and first aid training then it may save lives, and there is nothing more important than that.
2. Italian Smiles
Captain Giorgio Chiellini was one of the oldest players at the tournament and his infectious smile and good humour throughout made him the face of it. There were, of course, some classic Italian moments like nearly ripping the shirt off Bakayo Saka in the final when that is what was needed, but for the most part, this whole Italian adventure was based on style and smiles and they made the tournament better for their presence.
3. The crowds
We have been starved of hearing the full-throated roar of a stadium but in Budapest, Copenhagen and London we got to at or near capacity grounds and could remember days when this was the norm. We cannot forget that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and we can only hope that the scenes of crowds watching last night’s final across England and Italy do not lead to a resurgence of the virus but they were a reminder of and a pointer to better times in sport.
4. 55 Years and Counting
It was a step forward for England making it to their first Final since 1966 but still, the wait goes on and the update of the song needs to be done again.
They do seem to be a likeable bunch of players, and very young so the hope will be among their fans that Qatar in 2022 will give them another tournament to remember but for now, the grainy images of Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst will have to be kept preserved a little bit longer.
5. Our relationship with Engerland
England’s journey and ultimate defeat is a way of living history that does no harm and is what it is. English fans booing national anthems and the abuse of players who missed penalties on social media because of the colour of their skin are seized upon, rightly, as unacceptable behaviour and as good reason to cheer for anyone else, even when we secretly quite like the team and the manager.
The referees were among the stars of the show and got the vast majority of things right. VAR was used efficiently and quickly and may have come of age with a couple of close calls proving to be right and a general acceptance that even being one finger offside is still enough to fairly disqualify a goal.
7. Winning the Right to Host
It didn’t happen in the end but winning the right to host four games was a big result for Ireland. Yes it is a while ago and overtaken by events but our bid was rated in the top two of every category and in any other year we would have had a party to remember hosting games and embracing the thrill of major competition through real-life rather than the TV.
8. International Football
It was a feast and the performance of Denmark and others showed that there is a place for teams beyond the biggest at these festivals where the world comes together in sport. The next World Cup is only 16 months away and will warm the Winter nights of 2022. The next Euro’s are in Germany and we have to hope that there will be an Irish presence.
9. Women’s Voices
It was a tournament where we saw and heard women’s opinions and commentary. Lisa Fallon and Áine O Gorman starred on RTÉ and Gabby Yorath and Alex Scott were pitchside for the BBC for last night’s Final. Promotion of next Summer’s Women’s European Championship Finals took place throughout the final last night and with Northern Ireland qualified there will be some green involvement.
These collective celebrations of the sport get locked in the memory banks of kids of all ages and this was a tournament of good football and celebration. The footnote is that it took place one year late and in unprecedented circumstances but eight nine and ten-year-olds who watched last night will have memories when looking back at montages during the run-up to the tournament in 2080 and that is a permanence that is rare and should be treasured.
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