EURO 2020 – A to Z of key names and defining moments
By Aneesh Chaudhuri
From future Italian champions to the implosion of England and the daring performances of the Danes, here are the A-Z moments of the tournament after the Wembley festivities end.
Azzurri – The Azzurri won their second continental title after a fifty-three year gap. They also extended their unbeaten run to thirty-four games. They are the first team to win two shots on goal in the same tournament. They got closer in 2012 when they lost to Spain in the final.
The experienced pair of Italian center-backs Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini were vital. The pair haven’t lost a game since 2015, when the two teamed up as center-backs for the national team.
Budapest – The Puskas Arena in Budapest was sold out during Hungary’s clash against France and Portugal. Empty or partially full stadiums became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Hungarian government had allowed a full capacity crowd in the new arena, at the request of football-mad Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
COVID-19 – A difficult format has only been made more difficult by the pandemic. The protocols were different in each country. More travel meant more vulnerability to infections and less recovery time.
Many players caught the virus during and before the tournament Jasper Cillessen (Netherlands), John Fleck (Scotland), Billy Gilmour (Scotland), Sergio Busquets (Spain), Diego Llorente (Spain), Dejan Kulusevski (Sweden), Mattias Svanberg (Sweden)), Andrey Mostovoy (Russia), JoÃ£o Cancelo (Portugal) and Denis Vavro (Slovakia).
Donnarumma – For the first time ever, a goalkeeper won the Euro Player of the Tournament award. The 22-year-old was incredible behind the posts. He played seven hundred and nineteen minutes, conceded four and kept three clean sheets.
Italy only conceded in the round of 16, scoring a goal for the first time in over a thousand minutes. He was crucial in guiding them victorious in the formidable penalties in the semi-finals and the final.
Eriksen – Denmark Skipper Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch when his team’s lungs opened against Finland. This incident sent shivers down the spine of billions of viewers around the world.
Experts quickly attended to him and administered CPR as the players formed a human barrier around him. Eriksen was transported on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital. Later, the Danish FA confirmed that Eriksen was stable.
Free Kicks – The Euros saw only one goal from a direct free kick. Mikkel Damsgaard gave Denmark the lead over England with a 25-yard stun. It was also the first goal England conceded in the tournament.
Goran – Northern Macedonian football legend Goran Pandev led his nation to its very first major tournament. Although the nation finished last in Group C, its participation itself was historic. Captain Pandev has had a remarkable career winning Serie-A, the UEFA Champions League among many other big club laurels. He scored the country’s first goal against Austria.
Pandev is Macedon’s most capped and highest scorer. He announced his retirement after their campaign for the Euro.
Heads – There have been twenty-four heads goals scored in this edition of the Euro, the most in a single edition of the competition in its history.
It’s Not Coming Home – This was another disappointment for England, who continue to seek their first major silverware on the international stage since their 1966 World Cup triumph.
It was a blow to England as they sought to win their first European title. However, a redeemed Italy put an end to their hopes and dreams in the final. Despite their failure, England have a lot of hope again. The national team has succeeded in uniting the nation and the team will prepare to return to Qatar 2022.
Joachim LÃ¶w – After fifteen long years at the helm of Die Mannschaft, LÃ¶w had decided that the Euro would be his last major tournament with the national team. Germany lost to England in the round of 16.
LÃ¶w had an illustrious career as a coach of Germany. He won the 2014 World Cup, the 2017 Confederations Cup and finished runner-up at Euro 2008.
Kjaer – The 32-year-old Danish and AC Milan defender has shown why he is a leader on and off the pitch. When his dear friend Eriksen collapsed on the pitch, Kjaer ran across the pitch where he stabilized Eriksen’s head and opened his mouth to keep him from choking on his language. This act was vital to save the life of its captain.
Luis Enrique – For the very first time in Spanish history, no Real Madrid player has been selected for the Euro. Luis Enrique has decided to exclude Sergio Ramos, Marco Asensio, Nacho Fernandez from the Spanish final list.
While Ramos’ exclusion is understandable given his lack of minutes and physical condition in 2021, Nacho’s omission is more difficult for fans of Real Madrid, who have had a great season to understand.
Mbappe – A lot was expected of French superstar Kylian Mbappe. The star performer of 2018 couldn’t present the same thing this Euros. Mbappe has not scored a goal and only one assist. He took the crucial fifth penalty against the Swiss who was a poor effort and was saved by Yann Sommer.
Mbappe had a feud with teammate Olivier Giroud ahead of France’s opener. It is also alleged that the mother of teammate Adrien Rabiot had a word with Mbappe’s father to speak to Mbappe as Mbappe was too arrogant and was not a team player.
Neil Diamond – England fans have adopted Neil Diamond’s classic “Sweet Caroline” as their unofficial anthem this Euros. It was first played by the DJ at Wembley Stadium after the team’s resounding victory over the Germans. The English fans went crazy while singing the love song, joined by a few German fans as well. The song was popular in England with cricket and boxing.
After the semi-final victory over Denmark, England manager Gareth Southgate and the entire English team remained on the pitch singing the song with the fans.
Own goals – Euro 2020 produced the most goals against own side. With eleven own goals, Euro 2020 has now surpassed the total home goals scored in all previous editions of the tournament combined. The first goal of the tournament was actually an own goal against Mehri Demiral of Turkey.
Patrik Schick – The Czech striker had a dream come true at the Euro this summer. He scored five goals alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.
Schick may have scored the tournament goal against Scotland at Hampden Park. He spotted the keeper out of his line, fired a shot just inside the halfway line and gave his team a two-to-zero victory.
Quarter-finals – Two goals from Harry Kane, one for Harry Maguire and a first international goal for Jordan Henderson shattered Ukraine’s dreams of a place in the semi-finals. This is England’s biggest victory in the round of 16 of the Euro.
Remo Freuler was sent off in the 77th minute for his tackle on Gerard Moreno. Extra time was needed but with 10 men Switzerland held Spain 1-1. However, Spain held their ground as they beat Switzerland 3-1 on penalties.
Denmark’s impressive run continued as they got the upper hand over the Czechs, the Danes had steadily strengthened since the trauma of their opener.
Italy reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 with a 2-1 victory over Belgian goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne in the first half, concluded an exciting encounter against the world’s number one team.
Ronaldo – The Portuguese striker scored 5 goals and delivered 1 assist, winning his first-ever Golden Boot award in the tournament. He passed Platini (9) as the top scorer in the history of the competition with 14 goals.
Ronaldo is the only player to have appeared in five editions of the Euro since 2004. He also equaled Iranian Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals.
Skillzy – The official mascot of UEFA Euro 2020 has been described by UEFA as a “larger-than-life character inspired by freestyle, the streets and panna culture”. The mascot was unveiled in March 2019.
The freestyle-loving humanoid is an interactive mascot that unites football fans from various countries and cultures.
Twelve cities – Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Seville and St. Petersburg were the cities chosen for Euro 2020, as the format changed for the first time from one or two country hosting games to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
Uniforia – Uniforia by Adidas was the official match ball for the tournament named after the unity and euphoria that the tournament was striving to bring. Euro 2020 took place in 11 countries and Uniforia was designed to celebrate this inclusion.
VAR – For the very first time, VAR has been used in UEFA Euros. Remote officials based at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, were in direct communication with the match referee and officials for all matches.
We Are The People – The official UEFA Euro anthem “We Are The People” by Dutch DJ Martin Garrix was released in May. He also featured Bono and The Edge. The song is accompanied by an official music video featuring all three artists. The song matches the UEFA Euro 2020 theme, “Unity”.
Xenophobia – The celebration of Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic’s goal against North Macedonia has sparked controversy. Arnautovic, whose father is Serbian, was accused of shouting an anti-Albanian insult during the goal celebration. UEFA found him guilty and he received a one-match suspension. Likewise, a young German girl was the victim of online abuse after Germany’s loss to England.
UEFA has also opened an investigation into Hungary’s matches against Portugal and France in Budapest. Ahead of Hungary’s game against France, Hungarian fans marched to the stadium holding up a banner calling on players to stop kneeling in protest against racism.
After England’s loss to Italy on penalties, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jordan Sancho have all been the subject of racist slurs on social media. The Football Association and Prime Minister Boris Johnson strongly condemned the fan-inflicted incident.
Yann Sommer – The Swiss No.1 achieved the most heroic performance at this year’s European Championships. In the 120 minutes of the game against Spain, Sommer made 10 saves, the record for the most saves by a goalkeeper in Euro 2020. He also stopped Mbappe’s shot in their historic victory against France, world champion in the round of 16.
Zlatan – The Euro star has seen one of the best stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic miss due to a knee injury he suffered late in the season with AC Milan. Five years after his retirement, the Swedish football icon announced his return to international football but was unable to participate in the Euro.