🏆 The OneFootball Euro 2020 Awards

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OneFootball

Lewis Ambrose

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After one month and 51 games, Euro 2020 is over. And we loved it.

But who would we be handing the awards out to?


Who was your Player of the Tournament?

LA: I find it difficult to look beyond Raheem Sterling. If there’s a single player that has turned up and grabbed Euro 2020 and made it their own, it has been the boy from Brent, lighting things up in his own back yard.

DB: My vote goes to Sterling too. After scoring the winner against Croatia in the opening match he was asked if he had justified his selection. I think it’s fair to say he has now.

PC: Feels like naming a goalkeeper in this segment is cheating – but Gianluigi Donnarumma was imperious in that shootout and is incredibly talented.

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AM: It has to be an England player for me, and after the criticism he received before the tournament, I can’t look any further than Jordan Pickford. From pariah to Three Lions saviour – all in the space of a month.

JSM: Leonardo Spinazzola would’ve been in with a good chance before his injury but while we’re on the wing-back theme Joakim Mæhle stood out as an attacking outlet, particularly in the knockout rounds.

PW: Paul Pogba was on course for it but his early elimination allowed Jorginho to step into the void and steal the show. It’s easy to overlook him but he did everything so well this summer. He was immense for the Azzurri.


And your favourite goal?

LA: Andreas Christensen against Russia. After all Denmark had been through, it just started to look like they’d make it out of the group stage when Russia scored from the penalty spot. Then Christensen put things beyond doubt with an absolute screamer. Top goal, meaningful, and an explosion of emotion followed.

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DB: Paul Pogba’s wonderful strike against Switzerland was the epitome of my favourite type of goal. Little did we know it would end up being one of the least memorable things about that match!

PC: Seeing as nobody’s mentioned it thus far, Patrik Schick’s incredible long range effort against Scotland gets my vote. Incredible technique and execution to pull that off.

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AM: The quarter-final between Italy and Belgium was arguably the best-quality game of the tournament and it also included the greatest goal, as Lorenzo Insigne curled one past Thibaut Courtois from the edge of the area.

JSM: Luka Modrić’s outside-of-the-boot finish to give Croatia the lead in the group game against Scotland wins it for aesthetic reasons. The audacity of it. Sorry Pádraig.

PW: For personal reasons, Callum McGregor’s daisy-cutter against Croatia. Aesthetically speaking, I loved Kevin De Bruyne’s winner against Denmark.


If we had to ask you to name one breakthrough, it would be  …

LA: Alexander Isak. Sweden didn’t offer that much going forward but Isak looked excellent nonetheless, driving the team upfield, playing unselfishly, getting two assists.

DB: Perhaps I’m showing my ignorance here but I don’t think too many people were raving about Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli before the tournament. I fell in love with him at Euro 2020, and I don’t think I’m the only one.

PC: Unfortunately he missed the decisive penalty against Italy, but it felt like the rest of England (and the world) finally realised why Arsenal fans love Bukayo Saka so much.

JSM: Pedri has already proved his potential for Barcelona this season but he announced himself as the heir to Andrés Iniesta’s throne for Spain during the tournament.

PW: He didn’t start the tournament as first choice but the fearless Mikkel Damsgaard excelled after coming in for Denmark and carried on his superb Sampdoria club form. A big move beckons soon.


Who was your manager of the tournament?

LA: Kasper Hjulmand got it wrong at Wembley in the semi-final but to lead the Denmark players that far, and so close to the final itself, was a truly special achievement.

DB: As a Manchester City fan Roberto Mancini will always occupy a special place in my heart and his team were a joy to watch at this tournament. They played some beautiful football, they weren’t afraid to take risks and most importantly, they played with passion. I also think the grey suits worn by Mancini and his coaching staff were one of the best things about the tournament.

PC: It has to be Roberto Mancini. That’s now 34 games unbeaten for the Azzurri, they were the best team throughout the tournament and looked extremely handsome doing so.

AM: Italy were as low as a nation could be in 2018 when they failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. The job Roberto Mancini has done since then is a remarkable one and their passage to the final has been as tough as it gets.

JSM: Not one to be overawed with ‘Three Lions’ fever but Gareth Southgate has seriously impressed me. His selection choices are under the microscope every game and he got it right time after time. His cautious approach does hinder some of the talent he has in his ranks but it’s a proven successful way to approach tournament football.

PW: Expectations around the Spanish side (without a Real Madrid representative or even the full 26-man compliment) were low going in but Luis Enrique surpassed many predictions for his side and got the better of Roberto Mancini in the semi-final, where penalties denied him.


When we look back in 2030 or 2040, who will we say emerged as the cult player or team?

LA: This is maybe the one thing the tournament has lacked, a real standout cult icon, but Denmark’s run to the semi-finals, after everything they went through together, will never be forgotten.

DB: I’m gonna throw Switzerland into the mix. Their comeback win over France was incredible and they very nearly did the same to Spain in the quarter-final, only to lose that one on penalties. That’s what tournament football is all about.

PC: It’s difficult not to fall in love with Denmark. After everything that happened, they epitomised unity on and off the pitch, while playing some really exciting football as well!

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AM: Not a team or a player, but surely it has to be Italy’s Groucho Marx-lookalike on the bench – assistant manager Alberico Evani has become an internet sensation during this tournament.

JSM: It has to be Denmark, doesn’t it? Another nation steeped in European Championship history. They produced another brilliant run to the semi-finals after what they through, and did it while being attractive to watch.

PW: Antonín Panenka. Karel Poborsky. Milan Baroš. Is it really a European Championship without a Czech star taking it by storm? This year, it was the turn of Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick.


What was your moment of the tournament?

LA: That entire crazy round of 16 day when we saw 14 goals (one of them an own goal from 40 yards), a comeback, a shootout, a big upset. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more gripping day of tournament football.

DB: I will never forget the wave of relief I felt when the news filtered through that Christian Eriksen was conscious and communicative in hospital. Nothing that happens on a football pitch will ever matter more than that.

PC: France going out earlier than expected. They hadn’t lit the tournament up by any means, but were cruising against Switzerland only for their late collapse in normal time – and then losing on penalties.

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AM: As an England fan, there was no better moment that watching Thomas Müller breeze through the England defence to set up a one-on-one with Jordan Pickford before inexplicably sending the ball wide of the left-hand post. Pure bliss.

JSM: It’s already been mentioned but the night of Denmark progressing to the last-16 after beating Russia was just incredible, and the wave of emotion that came over from the pitch and in the stands was evidence of football at its best.

PW: Sadly not in a positive sense but it will be impossible for me to think of this competition without Christian Eriksen’s frightening collapse immediately coming to mind. However, the actions of the medical staff and his team-mates thankfully ensured it ended well, for want of a better word.


Did you have a favourite match?

LA: Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine. Something about it, the openness of it all, played out in a loud, vibrant stadium, screamed “EUROS” to me. That was the game that really kicked Euro 2020 off.

DB: I still think France’s 1-0 win over Germany in the group opener is one of the most absorbing games we saw at this tournament. I enjoyed it immensely.

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PC: I thought Portugal 2-4 Germany was absolutely brilliant. End to end, six goals, mad attacking football and it was the game where Germany really sprung to life.

AM: That Mad Monday where Spain blew a lead against Croatia and eventually netted five was just the entrée for Switzerland sending favourites France on the first plane back to Paris. What a brilliant few hours that was.

JSM: Croatia 3-5 Spain (AET). A comedic own-goal, catastrophic defending, a stunning comeback and all played out in the backdrop of the best stadium at the tournament, Parken.

PW: Switzerland’s penalty shootout win over France following a 3-3 draw had it all: stunning strikes, sublime touches, missed penalties, comebacks (plural), last minute goals and an underdog victory.


And, finally, give us the thing that made you laugh the most?

LA: The Switzerland fan. You know the one.

DB: The startled expression on this reporter’s face while Hungary’s players celebrated taking the lead against France around her still tickles me.

PC: I’m with Dan. That poor reporter after Hungary scored looked terrified, delighted and confused all in the space of three seconds.

AM: This lad coming through to deliver not just the funniest, but objectively, the best moment of the entire tournament.

JSM: Sorry Martin Dúbravka, but his own-goal for Slovakia against Spain when he decided he wanted to play volleyball for a bit was a lot of fun.

PW: Giorgio Chiellini’s fantastic mind games on Jordi Alba during the pre-penalty shootout coin toss in the semi-final. The Spaniard’s combination of being both bemused and irritated made it a moment to remember.