Here are six standout performers from the Uefa Euro 2020
Expectations were rather high from the 18-year old Pedri, following a solid season with Barcelona, yet it’s safe to say he undeniably exceeded them all. He lightened up the midfield, in both offensive and defensive roles, with his dynamism, intelligent play, passing prowess, and smooth ball-carrying; his abilities had us shaking our heads in disbelief. He played every minute of Spain’s campaign, and up until the final, had covered the highest distance (76.1km) in the tournament. He played a pivotal role in pulling Spain to the semis. He recorded an astonishing 92% pass accuracy, and what’s even more breathtaking is his 97% pass accuracy in the semis against the winners, Italy. As coach Luis Enrique mentioned, “What Pedri’s achieved, nobody has seen before.” This young magician has deservedly been named Uefa's Young Player of the Tournament, and we hope to see much more of him in coming years.
Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)
The 28-year-old Spinazzola made his presence felt in Euro 2020, with his exemplary performance as a left-back. He wasn’t the surefire quickest player arriving at the tournament, but managed to record the top speed in the competition until the very end, with a whopping 33.8km/h. His quickness and fluidity allowed Italy to instantaneously go from a front three to a front four, as he glided through the pitch up to the opponent box. He brought a certain explosiveness and energy that created many goalscoring opportunities. He bagged two Star of the Match awards with his performances in the group stage games and Round of 16. Unfortunately, his journey was cut short with an excruciating achilles injury in the quarters, which barred him from potentially claiming the Player of the Tournament award, as he proved to be one of the best to play this year’s Euros.
Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark)
Following Christian Eriksen’s chilling cardiac arrest in Denmark’s first game, Damsgaard was moved on from being a backup on the bench, to a starter for the Danes. Having been inspired by their No 10, the 21-year-old Damsgaard stepped up and quickly grabbed the attention of football fans worldwide, especially with his dazzling performance against the world's top ranked side, Belgium. With his lively and spirited nature on the field, and technical ability with his feet, he proved too much for the opponent defences to contain. His vigorous fight on the pitch enabled him to find the net against Russia and England. Against England, Damsgaard’s goal was the first they had conceded in the tournament, as he scored the only successful free kick throughout the competition. His hard working drive and vast talent may allow him to carry on in a talismanic role for Denmark, for years to come.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
The 22-year old Donnarumma was the hero for the Azzurris as they got the best of England in Sunday's dramatic Euro final. With three clean sheets in the group stage, he retained Italy’s streak of not conceding for 1,168 minutes, in which he was responsible for a stunning 987 minutes. He saved a vital spot kick in the penalties against Spain in the semis, which allowed Italy to sail on to the finals, where he saved a further two more spot kicks to ensure that football was coming to Rome. He recorded the most minutes played in the entire tournament, and his spirit, humility and contribution to the wholeness of his team, along with the huge saves he made, ended up winning him the Uefa Player of the Tournament award. With this special accolade to his name, he looks to move on to play for French giants, Paris Saint-German, after rising through the ranks and having spent his entire professional career at AC Milan.
Patrik Schick (Czech Republic)
The talismanic Czech star lit up the goalscoring scenes in this year’s Euros, proving to be a monster to the opponent sides. The 25-year old striker shook the world with his 49.7 yards (45.45m) goal in their first game, against Scotland. His extreme halfway line goal went on to be etched into the history books as the Goal of the Tournament for Euro 2020, and earned him a Star of the Match award. Since then, he remained a key difference-maker for the Czechs, scoring a marvellous five goals in total throughout the tournament, making him the joint highest scorer in the competition alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese captain edged him out from winning the Golden Boot by having an extra assist to his name. His campaign will be remembered by fans of the game, as we hope to see more of his flair in upcoming competitions and the club scene.
Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)
Although the Oranjes failed to move past the Round of 16, Dumfries made a name for himself with his noteworthy display as fullback. His sparkles on the pitch was seen from the very first game Netherlands played, where he scored the late winner with a header, en route to a dramatic 3-2 victory against the Ukraine. In their second match, he went on to score yet again, and earn the penalty for the decisive goal from Memphis Depay. He definitively bagged two Star of the Match awards in both the first two games. His firmness in defence and sturdy ways of using his body to win the ball made him a threat in the backline, and his high-powered runs, rocketing pace and ball control proved him a menace in attack. He may not have been able to shine in the later stages, but his abilities will surely be seen more in future times.
* The writer is an A level student who is doing internship at Dhaka Tribune