The Euro 2020 has finally come to an end after an impressive one month, that consisted of 51 fixtures in 11 cities with 142 goals amassed. Along with it we’ve had quite a few ups and downs to talk about from Volkswagen’s tiny remote control car taking up the responsibility of transporting the match ball, to England fans having a bitter pill to swallow. Here's a look at the ones we found to be most eye-catching.
1. A DAGGER TO DANISH HEARTS
The vikings were ready to kick-start their European campaign at the Parken stadium in Copenhagen against their Scandinavian counterparts. Little did they know a catastrophic event was what they were about to witness.
The throw-in taker directed the ball towards Christian Eriksen, before he lost consciousness and landed flat on the turf. Fortunately, the on-rushing captain Kjaer came to Eriksen’s aid, giving him the required CPR treatment, restoring life back into the 29 year old ex-spurs player. The whole stadium was frantic at that moment, but the very fact that Eriksen is doing fine now brings colour back into our beloved sport. It was surely a beautiful sight seeing fans unite and offer love and support to Christian.
Although these incidents are rare, it wasn’t the first time football fans experienced a player suffer a cardiac arrest right before their eyes. In 2012, another footballer, Fabrice Muamba of Bolton Wanderers, collapsed on the pitch as his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes. 28 yr old, Marc-Vivienne Foe, another athlete died unexpectedly at the 2003 Confederations cup while representing Cameroon.
"Extreme exercise puts athletes at increased risk because they stress their hearts harder - and that's more likely to trigger an issue," says Dr Zafar Iqbal, head of sports medicine at Crystal Palace Football Club.
2. The Unbeaten Azzurri army
Italy ran riots from the very start as they smoothly dismantled a haphazard Turkish side. They did the same against the Swiss and then easily wrote off the Welsh. A few raised eyebrows is what followed with people paying more attention to the azzurris, and seriously considering them potential challengers.
From 1935 to 1939, the Azzurri went on an unbeaten run of 30 matches under the then coach Vittorio Pozzo. During that period, the European giants had won their second consecutive World Cup title (1938) and won an Olympic gold medal at the Berlin games in 1936. It was during Italy's 2-1 win over Austria that saw Mancini's men extend their unbeaten run to 31 games and surpassed Pozzo's successful longstanding record.
Roberto Mancini's Italy are closing in on the all-time record of Brazil and Spain, who were unbeaten for 35 straight matches. The last time Italy lost was on the 10th of September, 2018 against Portugal in the group stage of the UEFA Nations League.
3. FANS MAKE A COMEBACK
Based on the ever-growing vaccination plan, the Hungarian government made a bold move by allowing 60 thousand fans to pack the Puskas arena to the rafters. After heavily investing in sport, Prime Minister Viktor Orban decided to make the most, by staging four games in his country. This was also a good chance for the Hungarians to make the most of summer and put to bed the disastrous implications that Covid brought upon us.
In doing so, they were required to produce a vaccination certificate before gaining admission into the stadium. Hungary's procurement of vaccines from Russia and China, as well as through the European Union, quickly gave it the second highest vaccination rate in the 27-member bloc after Malta. More than 66% of adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
It was definitely enjoyable watching a full-house international game after a long time and brought back a sense of fulfilment.
4. A TALE OF RONALDO AND RECORDS
Cristiano Ronaldo is the last one who would shy away from breaking an unthinkable record and here’s why. The Portuguese equaled Iranian striker Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals, against France in his 178th appearance for Portugal. After achieving an impressive milestone, the Iranian Ali Daei himself took to instagram, a heartfelt message in honour of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Daei amassed 109 goals in 149 appearances for Iran between 1993 and 2006. The Portugal captain overtook France great Michel Platini with his first goal in a 3-0 over Hungary when he converted a penalty kick in the 87th minute, by rifling the ball into the corner of the net and setting off his usual trademark celebration. What is even more mind-blowing is the way this record has been broken.
5. 55 YEARS AND COUNTING
Both the Italians and the English had a good chance of rewriting history and silencing their critics by winning the Euros. England never having won a major international trophy since 1966, while on the other hand the Azzurris hadn’t had the chance to claim the European trophy since 1968, although they did last win the World Cup in 2006. This made for an interesting final. The question entailed whether the trophy was coming home or instead making its way to Rome?
The English started on the right foot with Trippier playing provider as he usually does and Luke Shaw slotting the ball home in electrifying fashion. But as the game gradually progressed, the Italians were given permission to settle in and eventually got a foothold on the game with Bonucci picking up the pieces from a scrappy corner. The decibel levels in the stadium mellowed down with extra time to play for, yet to no avail.
Penalties came calling, and was not something particularly the English prayed for, despite no team ever winning consecutive penalty shootouts in the Euros. Pickford and Donnarumma did a sensational job in goal. But the latter had the edge and won the Italians the match. This was the longest gap between successive titles, spanning over 53 years (1968-2021).
Donnarumma eventually picked up Player of the tournament after an outstanding performance having kept 3 clean sheets, conceding 4 goals, with 9 saves and 6 punches made, in 7 games that amounted to a total of 719 minutes.
Unfortunately, multiple racial abuse remarks were directed to English players after the game. Many people on social media have also continued to make similar remarks towards the players, spoiling the nature of this very beautiful game.
6. COKE AND HEINEKEN GET A MENTION
Ronaldo sat down for his first pre-match press conference of the tournament before Portugal's clash with Hungary, and noticed that two bottles of Coca-Cola were sitting directly in front of him.
The 36-year-old promptly removed the soft drinks from the view of the cameras and replaced them with a water bottle, rolling his eyes while muttering with an undertone of disgust "Coca-Cola". Ronaldo held up his water bottle before setting it down and said 'Agua' - the Portuguese term for water - in an apparent attempt to urge people to drink water instead of Coca-Cola.
Manuel Locatelli took the same stance as Ronaldo prior to Italy's 3-0 victory against Switzerland in their second Group A fixture last Wednesday, smiling broadly while placing a water bottle at centre stage instead of the customary two Coca-Cola bottles.
France midfielder Paul Pogba, meanwhile, appeared to take aim at another of Euro 2020's main sponsors when he removed a Heineken bottle from his view at a media event. The Manchester United ace is known to be a devout Muslim and, therefore, does not drink any alcohol, but was apparently unaware that it was the brewing company's 0.0 per cent version.
Other players have tried to make light of the situation, including Ukraine's Andriy Yarmolenko who made sure that both the Coca-Cola and Heineken bottles were in front of him after a win against North Macedonia and jokingly asked the brands to contact him.
These are some of our favourite moments from the Euros. Comment below and let us know which one is yours. SportsEquip caters to your every need by providing authentic sports equipment right at your door-step.