The world was in shock in the 25th minute of the match as the main attraction, Cristiano Ronaldo, was reduced to tears with a knee injury that ended his tournament. In the build up to the final, the match was billed as Ronaldo against France and it seemed as if for Portugal to have any chance to win, Cristiano would have to be at his best. France’s whole team is littered with superstars across each part of the pitch and were the clear favourites. Yet, with their premier player off the pitch, the Portuguese showed fantastic tenacity and strength in their display to thwart any threat the French provided and delivered the hammer blow in extra time to seal victory. At the end of the match, Pepe said that the team won the Euros for Ronaldo. This just goes to show that certain individuals have that charisma and aura to provide their teammates with the motivation to go above even their own expectations.
One key character.
Over the years, sport has enthralled and surprised us all with performances we never expected. Just when we thought we knew what was going to happen, an unfenced team comes up from almost out of nowhere to steal the honours. They go under the radar from all commentators and fans throughout the build up to an event, yet they still find a way to get through. Only when these teams win do they really get the credit they deserve. This year we have had many of these types of moments. Leicester City’s incredible Premier League season, Iceland’s run to the quarter finals of the Euros and Portugal’s victory on Sunday. They all seem to have one key character to pull them through as champions or winners. The manager in Leicester and Iceland’s case, and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Portuguese. Even in this team sport of #Football, a few players or the managers can make all the difference.
The unsung hero.
Amongst all the adulation received by Ronaldo, one man went under the radar. The manager, Fernando Santos, has organised his team exceptionally well ever since taking the job recently. This is highlighted by his record of not losing a competitive match with the national team. Of course, the matches have not been the most exciting to watch and without this new format of the European championships, Portugal would not have even reached the knockout stages. However, teams simply have not been able to break down the stern defence of Portugal and when you possess exceptional talents like Ronaldo and Nani, you only need one moment of brilliance to turn the game in your favour. In every sporting victory, there is always an individual who does not get the credit they deserve, but their role is as vital as the superstars.
An emotional connection.
With the injury Ronaldo sustained on Sunday evening, many people thought that would be the end of Portugal’s chance to win. Rather than be despondent about losing their main asset, the team took this as an added inspiration to win it for their skipper. In extra time, Ronaldo also stepped up by providing help to his teammates from the technical area, giving advice to players at the most critical moments. These words, to come from possibly the best footballer on the planet, must have had an enormous impact on the result. Furthermore, you could see from the emotions at the end, how much it meant to each member of the squad. Sometimes, sport is much more than a physical contest, it is almost more emotional than life itself.