By Ed Wade.
Euro 2016 has come to an end. It has been a great tournament with lots to take away from it. Although there hasn’t been the same amount of flair or quality as previous European Championships, it has been brilliant for various other reasons. Portugal caused a stir by winning it, Wales were a revelation dismantling Belgium to get to the semi-finals and Iceland were the underdog heroes of the tournament knocking out England, the sick men of Europe.
So, there will be a team of the tournament, a player of the tournament, a goal of the tournament. All great accolades. But which players made a mess of things? Which coach was cringeworthy on the side-line? Which player crumbled on the penalty spot? Who will get the unwanted Raspberry awards?
One of the world’s renowned international coaches. An exemplary presence on the touchline. Fashionable, young and intuitive, but yet again caught with his hand down his trousers, under his armpit and picking his nose and then eating it? It is still baffling to see players and coaches get caught out, especially considering the thousands of cameras that are on them throughout the course of a game. This time however, Germany’s Joachim Loew took it to another level.
This was a difficult choice. International football tends to bring out some of the most absurd haircuts and Euro 2016 was definitely not any different. But it is Ivan Perisic who takes the prize. Being patriotic is one thing, but putting a pattern that resembles a dish cloth on the side of your head certainly wasn’t a good look for the Croatian winger. Wales’ Aaron Ramsey was a close second – a haircut that was subsequently copied by many a Welsh youngster much to their parents annoyance.
The Italy-Germany Quarter Final encounter was a bit of an odd one. Both teams played very tactically and astutely, effectively cancelling each other out. But it was the penalties that were rather unique, both the Germans and Italians are known for being good from the spot, yet most of them were awful. So it has to be Simone Zaza who takes the award, with an absurdly over the top run up, to then hoofing the ball over the top.
Raheem Sterling had a tough time out in France. A seemingly decent performance against Russia was heavily criticised, before being dropped in the final group game. He got plenty of stick from pundits and fans. His new manager Pep Guardiola even rang him to just keep his chin up. But it was his miss against Wales which set the tide for things, squared, six yards out, spanked over the top.
Republic of Ireland, The Green Army, are always a pleasure to have at a major tournament and they did not disappoint this time around! With all the fan trouble at the start of the championships, the Irish were a breath of fresh air, dancing and chanting with opposing supporters. The Wales and Icelandic supporters have to get a special mention, who were also terrific!
Unfortunately, there were quite a few teams to pick from. Things weren’t exactly gung-ho for most of the tournament. A lot of the teams played defensively and tried to counter, this was hardly easy on the eye for viewers. With plenty of teams to go for, it has to be Ukraine who take the award. The only team who failed to score a goal, I think they attacked for about 30 minutes of the whole tournament.
An incredibly difficult choice. People will obviously have varying views and opinions. But I have brought the decision down to a couple of key factors. How much of an impact the player had whilst remaining a team player, the ability and desire of the player to help drive his team forward. With this in mind, surely Gareth Bale has to take the accolade. He was instrumental for Wales throughout the tournament, scoring three and assisting another. With such a hefty price tag placed on his shoulders it would be easy to see how he could have an ego. But the Welshman was a team player through and through, whilst being a huge driving force for the dragons.
A difficult choice and perhaps a contentious one, but the leader of the winning team has to take the award. Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid maverick had a mixed tournament, growing continually frustrated during the group games acting like a petulant child at times, but you can see within the Portugal team just how much of a leader he is. The passion and desire shown during the final against France put to bed the claims that he only cares about himself. He was almost like a second manager on the touchline after coming off injured and was in tears at the final whistle.
Iceland beat England. The minnows of the tournament claimed one of the greatest scalps in international history. A nation with a population of only 330,000 pulled one over a so called footballing nation! The Icelandic celebrations were something that could give you goose pimples.
Goal Of The Tournament
Again this will be down to preferences and opinion. However, Xherdan Shaqiri managed to put away the best technical goal of the tournament. It was an outstanding strike in the last 10 minutes of the game against a Poland side which hadn’t conceded all tournament. A bicycle kick from 18 yards out by a player who is only 5ft 5in!
Team Of The Tournament
This accolade once again has to go to Wales. They were terrific as a unit right up until the Semi Final, where crucial suspensions seemed to take it’s toll on the side. Each player knew the role they had in Chris Coleman’s favoured 3-5-2/5-3-2 system and no player was bigger than the team. For a nation who had not been to a major finals since 1958, it was a fantastic achievement to be the last home nation and to make it as far as the semi-finals, and the fans really didn’t want to go home.