This guy definitely wasn’t only there for the sing song…
Player: Federico Balzaretti
Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo were drenched in adulation, but The Spoiler’s inherent contrariness forces us to adulate a less lauded soul. This summer was Balzaretti’s turn. Domenico Criscito getting smeared by the match-fixing scandal and a swift shift back to 4-3-1-2 gave Balzaretti an unexpected opportunity and our hero seized it spectacularly, before being outrageously dropped in the final.
Match: Spain 1-1 Italy
The mainstream debut of Spain’s strikerless formation and Italy’s 3-5-2 produced a pulsating contest graced by two tidy goals, lots of goalmouth action and Iker Casillas being forced into as many saves as the entirety of qualifying. On the flip side, it falsely raised hopes of a compellingly close final that were sadly curtailed within 14 minutes of the shouty announcer finishing his countdown to kick-off.
Greece’s efforts will likely be forgotten, with history doubtless rewritten to label them as an adroitly defensive-drilled side offering little in attack despite shipping seven and scoring in every game. The Spoiler will remember them as a group never knowingly beaten, an outlook that saw them petrify Angela Merkel by briefly threatening a comeback even when outclassed by Germany in the quarters.
Manager: Morten Olsen
This should be Cesare Prandelli, but to avoid overchumminess with the calcio crew and for ditching our fave Euro 2012 player in the final, we’ll snub him for Morten Olsen. Given the ever diminishing lifespan of international coaches, his 12 years as Denmark boss is a miracle. Olsen oozed calm and logic in press briefings and his side came far closer than most fancied to escaping the group of death.
Pundit: Roy Keane
Opinionated, argumentative, menacing, stubborn and occasionally, to stop you getting comfortable with his discomforting demeanour, he’d thrown out an un-anticipatable funny. After a middling first season on the sofa, Roy Keane did a Milan Baros and hit top form at a European Championship. ITV’s product was far more captivating than usual, making their thrashing by BBC in terms of final viewing figures all the more disappointing.
Comparison: The Guardian’s Barney Ronay on James Milner
“Uefa’s analysis graphics depict him as a static blob, but really Milner’s blob should be blurred with motion lines, reflecting an approach that basically involves embarking on a series of unrelenting sprints from box to box, like a man very stubbornly doing lengths of a swimming pool while a water polo match goes on all around him.”