the euro 2020 alternative awards
the euro 2020 alternative awards

The Euro 2020 alternative awards

It came, it went, and it left one hell of a mark.

Euro 2020 was one of the best international tournaments in living memory, and when the dust settles, even beaten finalists England will look back on it with a smile on their faces and fond memories.

Before we officially say goodbye to the competition that welcomed in the summer and cheered us all up after 18 months stuck in the throes of a pandemic, however, 90min has taken a look back at some of the highlights, and come up with an awards list like no other.

Here are your Euro 2020 alternative awards.

Those of us who take a dim view on extremist right-wing politics felt a little bit conflicted about cheering Hungary on. But, objectively, you have to appreciate good #scenes when you see them.

And after their opening goal against France, there were some very good #scenes indeed.

A packed stadium full of jubilant Hungarians going off their heads, followed by the goalscorer trashing an announce table like something you’d see on Friday Night Smackdown. What more could you ask for?

There can be no question that eventual champions Italy were the best team at the tournament. They weren’t the prettiest, but the sheer guts of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini bled through as Roberto Mancini’s side won the Euros for the second time in their history.

Chiellini was the sh*thousing standout, however. From his mind games (and physical games) at the coin toss with Jordi Alba to his brazen professional foul on Bukayo Saka, the smiling gladiator gave everything in his power to make sure the trophy was coming to Rome.

We’ve heard so much over the past few years about how a 24-team Euros, complete with back-door qualification through a weighted Nations League playoff, devalues the competition and lets in too many teams who simply aren’t good enough.

What a load of nonsense that is, eh?

North Macedonia qualified for their first ever major tournament this year, a story that simply would not have been possible without all of the above factors giving them a leg up. And because they qualified, Goran Pandev, one of the most capped European international footballers ever, got to say goodbye on the biggest stage of all.

If that’s the Euros ‘devalued’ then sorry, but I’m not interested in the valuable version.

Hopes were high for Scotland this summer, but in typically Scottish style, they didn’t last long. Eight months of listening to Baccara and getting their hopes up were brought to a crashing halt by Luka Modric at Hampden, but at their first tournament in 23 years, it was all about just being there.

Despite the fact barely any away fans were allowed in for their trip to Wembley, and despite the fact the London weather was absolutely horrible, tens of thousands of Scots travelled down in carnival mode for their second group game against the Auld Enemy.

The party continued long into the night after Steve Clarke’s team battled valiantly to a deserved point, and they will be back sooner rather than later.

Yeah yeah, it was a good message to send to kids, blah blah blah.

It was still very nerdy behaviour from Cristiano Ronaldo to move that bottle, wasn’t it?

“Wait, Roy Keane went to a Neil Diamond concert?!”

“Yeah, he argued with some old lady about singing too loudly when he was there.”

“Ah, yeah that makes sense.”

It takes some doing to earn any sort of comparison to Andres Iniesta, but Barcelona youngster Pedri has earned every bit of the praise lavished on him for his performances at Euro 2020.

From champion Gianluigi Donnarumma to Denmark’s prodigy Mikkel Damsgaard, 90min’s Our 21 had some standout performers, but none took to the big stage quite as seamlessly as Spain’s 18-year-old sensation.

He played virtually every minute prior to their semi-final exit, covering every blade of grass from Seville to Copenhagen and inspiring his country to a much better showing than most of us expected.

It’s only the start for Luis Enrique’s golden child, though – there will be plenty more of these to come.

Hero (noun) – a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

I mean it’s the only word for it, isn’t it?

It took mythical strength of character to do what Simon Kjaer did in the wake of Christian Eriksen‘s collapse against Finland. He showed he was Denmark’s captain and leader for a reason, rushing to perform CPR and keep his former teammate alive, before organising his troops in a protective circle around him as he received treatment on the pitch.

Were it not for Kjaer’s actions, Eriksen may not have pulled through. Yet, after the emotional trauma of literally saving a friend’s life, he still found it within himself to lead his country all the way to the semi-finals.

Legitimately superhuman stuff from a Danish football legend.