Euro 2016 just ended with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal lifting the cup with magical moments and suspense that characterized this year’s tournament.
Great goals, wonderful Dimitre Payet, Ranato Sanchez and Antoine Griezman and gold standard goalkeeping made this a tournament to cherish forever.
The party’s over but the memories remain. From the Bellevue Palace to the White House and even the International Space Station, everyone tuned in to the party in France. Iceland stunned England, Ronaldo partied with the victorious Portuguese. French fans blasted out their national anthem while Portugal bounced up and down to theirs. Most players gave everything. Dimitre Payet lit up the tournament with his goals, smiles and industriousness. And now it’s over, silence replacing the sweet music.
For the fans packing their bags in hostels and hotels, or rolling up their sleeping bags in Paris, the end of the Euro 2016 brings a sense of sadness and also a feeling of privilege to have been present. The 15th UEFA Euro tournament will be cherished forever. It was clear early on that this was going to be special; Dimitre Payet beautiful goal during France’s heart-pumping victory over Romania got the party started.
And the party continued, goal after goal, game after game, week after week.
The memory of the party at the Allianz Riviera, Nice will linger when tournament underdogs, Iceland used the tournament underachievers, England to mob the Allianz Riviera grass. Early on Sunday afternoon, the French were swapping shirts and a few words with the Portuguese. Barring the odd scuffle, respect ruled. If only every tournament could be like this.
Three players deserve praise above all others. Even though Italy went out in the quarters, Bonucci was the star of the show in France at the back. Antoine Griezman kept running and scoring while his team-mate Paul Pogba embodied France’s tactical nous, stamina, positional sense and will to win.
There was always intensity, the final was a fight and drama. A fantastic open and high paced game. There were negatives too: the constant reminder of tight security, the hooligans from England and Russia who slashed the dish at times and took stage, and the on-field moments of concern, that filthy injury that incapacitated Ronaldo’s presence for the entire duration of the final.
Three week moments that transformed people from run-of-the-mill Mr. Average to vein-through-the-head Mr. Angry, all because of a contentious penalty.
The game brought to the surface emotions that don’t usually appear in everyday life, the anger, the venom, the vitriol, the bitterness, the elation and the relief.
And, in the end, Eder was the star man. A sumptuous strike from 25 yards in extra time to break France’s hearts, naming Portugal the successor’s of Spain as European Champions. The power of will, tactical order and belief carried Portugal over the obstacles haven’t started with no victory at the group stages.
A perfect dish well served!
By GCBM Sports correspondent Muftawu Nabila Abdulai