It’s finally over: We (eventually) found ten highlights from Euro 2016

Well this list may have taken longer to come up with than two years ago, but there were still plenty of moments from the tournament that got us off our seats. And yes, if you can’t be bothered scrolling down, Iceland beating England is number 1!

10 Slaven Bilic 

Comfortably the best pundit at the tournament and one who may have even made viewers choose ITV over advert-free Beeb for the final had he not returned to West Ham duties. Insightful, articulated and brilliantly perplexed by Ian Wright’s brand of “punditry”. His dancing on the studio tables after Payet’s goal against Albania was a particular highlight.

9 Brady’s beauty

With Ireland heading towards the disappointment of being the only home nation representative to fail to make it out the group, Hull City man Robbie Brady popped up with a late headed winner against the Italians to send the Irish fans mental. Despair to delirium for the supporters – and the owners of bars in Lille. Also a nice moment for Wes Hoolahan who set up the winner, seconds after missing a sitter which he may well have haunted him for years.

8 Na Na Na Na Na 

Will Grigg: Winner of the UEFA award for most-talked-about-unused-sub. The Will Grigg’s on Fire tune has, in the blink of an eye, gone from the chant of the year to the Euros equivalent of the vuvuzela. But the catchy tune had it’s brilliant moment – unlike the man behind it. Although Michael O’Neill may be a hero in Northern Ireland for his exploits with the national team, he is a villain in the rest of Europe for not giving even a minute of game-time to the Wigan man. The task of terrifying defences was left to the Galacticos of Kyle Lafferty, Conor Washington and Josh Magennis. Euro 2016 will remember Will Grigg…even if Will Grigg will barely remembers it himself!

will grigg heat
Will Grigg’s heat map

7 Supporters

Russian and English thugs got the tournament of to a horrendous start, but the way the supporters behaved throughout the rest of the competition was one of the major pluses of Euro 2016. I don’t want to go too happy camper on you (it is still only a Tuesday after all), but the way some of the countries’ fans reacted to their triumphs – and even their defeats – reminds us why we love football. The Northern Irish and Irish celebrations after their wins against Ukraine and Italy respectively were typically jovial and drunken, making us Scots even more bitter about the time of our lives we were missing out on. The Hungary supporters’ We Will Rock You-style march was jaw-dropping while the Albania fans celebrations were perhaps the best of all – and they didn’t even get through. There were also some memorable moments of sportsmanship from the Belgium fans giving a guard of honour to the Welsh, and this young Portuguese lad consoling a distraught Frenchman. UEFA’s decision to allow 24 teams to compete may have decreased the quality on the pitch but the atmosphere in the stadiums was as electric as ever.

 

6 Magic McGovern 

The moment the whole of Europe realised who Hamilton “Academicals” were. The Northern Ireland stopper almost single-handedly dragged his country into the knock-out stages with a heroic display against Germany. They may have lost the game 1-0 but McGovern’s stops – including two world-class saves – ensured Northern Ireland’s progress on goal difference. After outshining David De Gea and Manuel Neuer, even an optimistic “Academicals” fan would be optimistic to imagine the keeper starting the new season at New Douglas Park.

5 Griezmann Goals

Fine margins in football, sometimes. If Griezmann’s second half header in the final had dropped below the bar he would be a national hero forever and Euro 2016 would forever be remembered as the ‘Antoine Griezmann tournament’. As it was, his six goals (the most at a tournament since Ronaldo in 2002) will largely be forgotten. However, given his shocking ‘Hotline Bling’ celebration, maybe what goes around comes around…

4 Showstopper from Shaqiri

The alliteration continues!

If the BBC even bothering with a Goal of the Tournament was crazy, then the fact that they didn’t choose Shaqiri’s wonder-goal was baffling. Given how dross some of the football was, UEFA should have just given the Henri Delaunay Trophy (had to Google that) to pocket-rocket Shaqiri there and then! The step back, the power generated, the distance and even the facial expression mid-air when he realises what he’s done…What a goal.

3 Payet’s tears 

The (surely Real Madrid-bound) Dimitri Payet dazzled from the start and is another, like Griezmann, who would’ve been part of the folklore had Les Bleus got over the line. And it was his moment of brilliance that got the tournament under way. His left-footed pile driver was special and the emotion he showed afterwards reminds us of what playing for your country should be all about. Definitely a touch of Gary Caldwell against France in the disbelief and sheer ecstasy. NOTE: that’s probably the first and last time anyone will ever compare Caldwell and Payet.

2 Wales

Everything you could possibly want from an international team that played more like a club. Their togetherness was an example to other nations- but it also helps to have a Galactico. Gareth Bale played the role of leader superbly, with his goals and his desire to always want the ball, dragging others along with him. Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen both made the UEFA Team of the Tournament, while Ashley Williams, James Chester and Hal Robson-Kanu were all fantastic. It was a tame end for the Welsh in the semi-finals but their game against Belgium in the previous round was the match of the Euros. End-to-end attacking football from both sides; wonder-goals from Nainggolan and Robson-Kanu, and Sam Vokes’ expert header to seal the remarkable contest.

1 Iceland

If Wales vs Belgium was the match of the tournament then this was certainly the shock. Made even better by the English commentators and pundits who talked about Iceland as if they were San Marino, despite the fact they beat The Netherlands (home and away) in qualifying and finished higher than eventual winners Portugal in the group stage. The Iceland equaliser from a long-throw, mere seconds after Wayne Rooney’s penalty, summed up the English campaign. And the winner was downright comical.

But take nothing away from Iceland. This was no dogged defensive display, they played some slick football and actually had the better chances than England in the second half. They scored eight goals in the tournament (more than Spain and Germany) and were a breath of fresh air. As was their Viking chant – which has been pinched by half of Europe and will now probably end up being used after a 0-0 draw between West Brom and Swansea next season.

Don’t forget their “Blue Wall” of supporters, and mad commentary after their goals against Austria and England. Iceland, we salute you!

iceland