Who could be the unlikely heroes we’ll all be talking about after Euro 2020 is finished?
Major tournaments provide the opportunity for stars to be born, and sometimes they come from the most unlikely quarters. When Euro 2020 is put to bed, it will be remembered as the tournament in which Ronaldo broke yet another record, and doubtless other footballing megastars will write their names into the history books. But in three weeks of football, there are many stories to be told. Here are some players who might not have been familiar before the tournament started but who will be forever associated with their Euro 2020 heroics and are well worth remembering for your fantasy teams over the coming years.
Nobody was more surprised than the Finns when their national team qualified for its first ever major international tournament. Just getting through to UEFA Euro 2020 was an immense achievement, and when they were drawn to play former champions Denmark in their own back yard for the opening match, the result seemed obvious. For the first 30 minutes, it looked like men against boys, and the home team fired shot after shot at the goal. Yet keeper Lukáš Hrádeckýevery was a match for everything that came his way. Finland could so easily have been 3-0 down when the game was suspended due to Erikson’s incident. As it was, the teams were still level when play resumed, and Finland were able to steal a goal and claim the most improbable of wins.
It’s the stuff of comic books. Billy Gilmour has only just turned 20 and it’s unlikely he would even have made the Scotland squad were it not for Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean sustaining injuries. When he left the field after that historic 0-0 draw against England, BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Pat Nevin predicted that he is a shoe-in for every game Scotland plays in the next 10 years. Graeme Souness, a man not usually given to hyperbole, said he was the best player on the pitch, and nobody from either team showed any appetite to disagree. The only real question was why he didn’t get an opportunity to play in front of his home fans in the tournament opener against the Czech Republic – who knows how things might have turned out?
The Netherlands progressed through the group stage of Euro 2020 with plenty of drama along the way, and one man was constantly at the centre of the action. Denzel Dumfries kept his head when all about him were losing theirs to assure his team of three points against Ukraine, and he again proved to be the man who could get things done in a more business-like performance against Austria. Eurosport’s Pete Sharland predicts the top teams in Europe will be falling over one another to sign the 28 year old when the tournament comes to an end. It’s rumoured that just €15 million will release him from PSV, and he’s already told Voetbal International that he’s “ready to take the next step abroad.”