Four weeks of captivating, pulsating international football will come to a head on Sunday evening with England looking to end 55 years of hurt against Italy at Wembley.
Euro 2020 has been far from ordinary for a whole host of reasons, but the unrivalled level of entertainment that underpins major international tournaments has prevailed in spite of the circumstances.
It’s been a gripping tournament laden with first-class goals and heart-warming subplots, sprinkled with unlikely upsets and officiated to an immaculate standard which makes you question where the domestic leagues are going so wrong.
Now that the tournament is drawing to a close, it’s an apt time to reflect on what’s unfolded and celebrate the most outstanding performers from Europe’s international football festival.
As worthy as they are of acclaim, we’re not talking about Roberto Mancini’s tailor or Ciro Immobile’s acting teacher; this is strictly about raw, pure footballing ability.
With that in mind, GIVEMESPORT have outlined six nominees – with a cap of two per country – for the GIVEMESPORT Fans’ Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament award ahead of the showpiece final.
Unsurprisingly, four of the six players are representatives of the two finalists, while the other two nominations arrive from semi-finalists Spain and giant-killing Czech Republic, who sent The Netherlands home in the last-16.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the nominees:
It is a measure of how influential Harry Maguire has been that he warrants a place on this list despite missing England’s opening two fixtures.
Maguire was ruled out of United’s last four Premier League games of the 2020/21 season with an ankle injury and his absence extended into the beginning of the tournament, but he has been every bit as sharp as the rest of the England players since returning against the Czech Republic in the final group stage game.
His front-foot interceptions have given England a stark base from which to build their attacks and, naturally, Slabhead chipped in with a customary headed goal to extinguish Ukrainian dreams during the finalists’ 4-0 quarter-final victory.
As the central defensive lynchpin of a side that have conceded just once in the tournament, Maguire has serious credentials to be crowned Player of the Tournament.
Prior to the 2020/21 season, and most notably before Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Chelsea, casual onlookers found themselves locked in thought about what exactly Jorginho offers aside from a technically assured sideways pass.
However, a starring role in Chelsea’s 2021 Champions League triumph has been backed up with a series of glowing displays in Italy’s midfield at Euro 2020, leaving the world in little doubt about how hasty they were to underestimate his metronomic qualities. Jorginho’s cold-blooded ability from 12 yards was never in doubt, and he joined Andrea Pirlo in the Italian annals as one of the most ballsy penalty takers in history with his shootout-winning strike against Spain in the semi-final.
Only two players have made more ball recoveries than Jorginho’s 40, and, with the exception of Spanish players, he is tied with John Stones (426) for the most number of passes made in the competition.
The ability to blend playmaking and destroying, skills sitting at opposite ends of the footballing spectrum, so seamlessly makes him one of the most extraordinarily unique players on the planet right now.
The statistics may not read overly impressively for Pedri but the 18-year-old wonderkid is exactly the type of player who needs to be seen to be understood.
A typical product of Barcelona’s notorious La Masia academy, Pedri barely touches the ground as he waltzes the turf with the ball at his feet, seeking holes in the opponent’s defence that only a blessed few are capable of both locating and infiltrating.
He completed eight key passes at Euro 2020 and often looked the most likely player in Spanish colours to carve out an opportunity, while his tireless work rate enabled him to run a tournament-high 76.2m kilometres.
Pedri may not scoop the acclaim here but he has every chance of being crowned Young Player of the Tournament by Uefa.
Leonardo Spinazzola is relatively new to the Italian national side at 28 years old but you wouldn’t have guessed it based on his performances at Euro 2020.
The AS Roma full-back had only made 14 caps for Italy prior to the tournament, but his importance to Mancini was clear from the early stages of their opening match against Turkey.
His overlapping runs, teasing dribbles and dangerous end product have produced two assists and given Italy a real weapon to supplement Lorenzo Insigne down the left hand side.
That the Italian players dedicated their semi-final win over Spain to Spinazzola – as Lorenzo Insigne sported a Spinazzola shirt while the players and staff chanted his name – speaks volumes about his newfound status in the national side.
Spinazzola’s absence from the final is a real blow for the spectacle.
There were genuine doubts about Raheem Sterling’s place in Southgate’s starting XI ahead of Euro 2020.
Sterling lost his place to Phil Foden at Manchester City in the final months of the season, lending reason for a BBC journalist to ask him – much to Sterling’s understandable bewilderment – if he had justified his selection after scoring the winner against Croatia in England’s opening game.
That an exasperated Sterling even had to field a question of that ilk after single-handedly securing England three points provides some indication into the nation’s chronic underappreciation of his talent. After years of struggle, though, there is surely not a shred of doubt remaining about Sterling’s world-class ability.
The 26-year-old has been a menace in all of England’s games and a central figure in almost every one of their 10 goals.
He was in stunning form against Denmark, forcing Simon Kjaer to turn through his own net for the equaliser before winning a penalty in extra-time with a piercing dribble near the byline.
A return of three goals and an assist only goes some way to underlining what a mesmerising tournament it has been for Sterling, and it will be difficult to look beyond him for individual accolades when the curtain is brought down at Wembley on Sunday.
The Czech Republic were one of the surprise packages of the tournament and their route to the quarter-finals was made possible by the deadly brilliance of Patrik Schick at centre-forward.
Schick scored two exquisite goals, including an undisputed Goal of Euro 2020 contender from the halfway line against Scotland at Hampden Park, to set the tone for an outstanding individual tournament in which he scored five goals in five games.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo has matched that return and his all-round play at the spearhead of the Czech attack will surely have alerted some potential suitors this summer.
Cast your vote for the Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament award here.