Euro 2020 has reached its unwanted conclusion and with the summer of insanely dramatic football coming to a conclusion, OTB Sports' Enda Coll has sat down to pick his Best XI from the tournament."
It has been a summer to remember. Maybe it was because of what has gone on in the last two years, but that tournament did not disappoint.
From the spine-tingling opening ceremony with Andrea Bocelli, to the drama of the penalty shoot-out in the final, it had everything. Of course, now is the time for reflection and time to choose who we all thought stood out.
Firstly, if I were to factor in matters outside of football, the entire Denmark team would make the list for even carrying on in the tournament, much less getting to the semi-final.
However, I havee selected a team made up of the players I feel stood-out in pure football terms, throughout the tournament. This is my team of the tournament.
Formation - 3-4-3
Gianluigi Donnarumma - Italy
This tournament felt like a coming of age for the Italian goalkeeper. The official Player of the Tournament was also young enough to qualify for Young Player of the Tournament too. Donnarumma has been a mainstay at AC Milan for several years now, but now he is Italy’s main man. The time of Gianluigi Buffon is over, the time of Gianluigi Donnarumma has begun.
Leonardo Bonucci - Italy
“It’s coming to Rome” Bonucci screamed into the camera at full-time of the Euro 2020 final. His goal had cancelled out Luke Shaw’s opener and he slotted home his penalty with the calmness not shown by many of the forwards on the night. Bonucci was a master throughout the tournament, mixing outstanding defending with top-class football.
Giorgio Chiellini - Italy
“He would kill his granny to win a match”, the great John Giles once said about his teammate Bobby Collins. There are very few players remaining that you could say this about. Giorgio Chiellini is one of them. The greatest example of this was in the final when he pulled Bukayo Saka to the ground. No hesitation, no remorse. He always does what’s needed.
Luke Shaw - England
This is the Luke Shaw we’ve been waiting for. Carrying on from a brilliant club campaign with Manchester United, Shaw was one of the stand-out players for England throughout. Constantly an option going forward, getting inside to create space and defensively solid too.
Kyle Walker - England
There are a few options I could have squeezed into this position, but in the interests of keeping players in their actual positions, it is hard to look past Kyle Walker. Despite clear flaws in parts of his game, Walker played an undeniably key role in England’s push to the final.
His recovery speed and physicality to match most forwards at the tournament allowed England to hold a higher line in defence. It also gave John Stones and Harry Maguire freedom to burst out into midfield with the ball to create an overload.
Leonardo Spinazzola - Italy
There’s always a surprise package at major tournaments and Spinazzola was it. All you need to do is compare Italy’s performance with him to without him. A constant threat going forward, a link between defence and attack, and in general, just a very exciting player to watch. Brave in possession, always willing to take his man on; the fact he didn’t get a chance to play in the final was one of the disappointments of the tournament.
Jorginho - Italy
An enigma for many, Jorginho proved his doubters wrong in the strongest possible way this year. Ending his season with a Champions League and European Championship medal, there can be no doubting his ability anymore. Alongside Verratti, Jorginho thrived in his deep-lying playmaker role at this tournament. Jorginho made the joint-most ball recoveries (46), won the most fouls (18), played the most minutes of any outfield player (705), and set a record for the most interceptions made at a single European Championship tournament (25) since such data became available in 1980. Outstanding.
Pedri - Spain
For most people, this was the tournament when Phil Foden would explode. For others, it would be the crowning moment for Kylian Mbappe. But it was Spanish youngster Pedri who stood out as the best young player at the tournament. The first player to be labelled ‘the new Xavi’ to actually look like it. The 18-year-old’s standout performance came in the semi-final against Italy, when he completed 65 of his 66 passes in 120 minutes of football. Well deserving of the Young Player of the Tournament award.
Federico Chiesa - Italy
A toss-up between Mikkel Damsgaard and Chiesa, I went with my gut feeling. Damsgaard played some brilliant football at Euro 2020, but in terms of sheer excitement, Chiesa was nailed on for me. His directness in possession was refreshing to watch, he also scored two brilliant and important goals. As well as that, his willingness to receive the ball helped sway the tide in the final.
Patrik Schick - Czech Republic
Euro 2020 had no shortage of great forwards and certainly looking in, Schick would have been an unobvious choice for the golden boot. The Czech led the line brilliantly in the group stages, right the way through to their quarter-final defeat to Denmark. He was also the scorer of one of the greatest goals in European Championships history.
Raheem Sterling - England
There are plenty of decisions Gareth Southgate will be criticised for in the aftermath of this Euros, but sticking his faith in Raheem Sterling won’t be one of them. Despite a year in the wilderness at Manchester City, Southgate trusted the man who had scored important goals for him in the past, and it paid off. Sterling was a constant threat on the ball and off it too, stretching defences and causing havoc inside the opposition box. It was the Sterling of old at this tournament.
UEFA TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
Kyle Walker (England)
Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
Harry Maguire (England)
Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Denmark)
Federico Chiesa (Italy)
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Raheem Sterling (England)
UEFA's Technical Observers
Packie Bonner, Esteban Cambiasso, Fabio Capello, Cosmin Contra, Corinne Diacre, Jean-François Domergue, Dušan Fitzel, Steffen Freund, Frans Hoek, Aitor Karanka, Robbie Keane, Ginés Meléndez, David Moyes, Mixu Paatelainen, Peter Rudbæk, Willi Ruttensteiner