Taking place a year later than originally planned, Euro 2020 arrived at precisely the right time for a society that was clambering for an uplifting moral boost.
This showpiece event duly delivered by the bucket load, as we were spoiled with outrageous goals, tension filled drama, and one classic encounter after the other as Euro’s fever spread across the continent.
There is nothing quite like major tournament football that unites and brings people together as one, so here we take a look back at this competition’s finest moments.
10. Andrea Bocelli sings Nessun Dorma.
With a world so desperate to indulge itself in something that would evoke emotion and raise its spirits, these championships held in multiple cities across Europe would host the opening ceremony in the eternal city of Rome, where Italy would play Turkey in the tournament’s first match.
Andrea Bocelli rounded off the colorful ceremony by belting out the anthemic Nessun Dorma in a moment that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
For a world that had been locked down for so long it was almost as if this performance reignited our ability to think, feel, and express our passion for the things we love.
It was a perfect pre-cursor to the drama that would unfold over the next four weeks, as his spine tingling rendition lit a fire under the belly of each and every participating country. The excitement had begun in earnest as we all welcomed the theatre of major tournament football back into our lives once more.
Click on the numbers down below to continue the countdown.
In an ever changing world where we currently do not have live sport to keep us entertained, I felt it would be an appropriate moment to look back on one of the most monumental feats in Football history as we near the four year anniversary of this heart warming story.
A team that had narrowly avoided relegation from the top flight the season before were crowned the new kings of the Premier League, ripping the crown from the grasp of the status quo that had maintained a stranglehold over the games top prizes for decades.
Pieced together from players plucked from obscurity, managed by a man who had never tasted success in his career, it was little Leicester City who defied the odds and landed a first Premier League title in their 132 year history.
Considered by bookmakers as mere relegation fodder, the season began with the club a massive 5000/1 to win the title, but as Leicester began to pick up wins they soon found themselves at the summit alongside the established cash rich outfits with many expecting an inevitable slide down the table.
It never materialised as Leicester soon became every body’s favourite second team, we all watched on in awe as they gave the big boys a thumb in the eye every week, a joy to behold in a game that had seemingly been lost in recent times due to the Billions of pounds awash within the Premier League.
Other teams had lavished absurd amounts of money on their clubs playing staff and wage bill in order to achieve their aspirations and here were Leicester City breaking the mould, shattering the convention that money would buy success, this was one Premiership Title that would be earned.
Heroes were beginning to emerge across the entire squad.
N’golo Kante was the little engine that could, his relentless and energetic displays left the opposition without a moments rest. This ball winning midfielder was recruited from French second division club Caen and was soon regarded as the most feared tackler in the division, a shrewd acquisition in anyone’s books.
Riyad Mahrez, an unknown entity at the time, was signed for a mere £400,000…an absolute snip in todays bloated transfer market. The silky Algerian lit up our television screens on a weekly basis with his trickery and skills, often seen dropping delightful passes over the opposition backline for his strike partner Jamie Vardy. He was later voted PFA player of the season for his pivotal role in the teams success with his creativity and 17 goals.
Jamie Vardy thrust himself into the limelight with his swashbuckling displays and electric pace, smashing home 24 league goals that season. The former Fleetwood Town frontman also etched his name into the Premier League history books, as he memorably eclipsed the record of former Manchester United striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy for scoring in 11 consecutive matches.
Wes Morgan, the ageing club captain, manfully stitched together a back four comprised of performers that were cast aside by the established elite, told they weren’t good enough, players like Danny Simpson once of the mighty Manchester United.
He was a reliable and commanding presence week in, week out at centre back with his partner Robert Huth alongside him. Whilst Kasper Schmeichel, son of the legendary Peter, was consistently outstanding as the last line of defence in goal.
Claudio Ranieri had managed at a plethora of clubs across world Football, yet he had never managed to capture any major league titles. With his diminishing years in terms of age it seemed a strange appointment at the expense of the popular Nigel Pearson, who had masterminded the clubs great escape the previous season.
However, the 64 year old Italian presided over this extraordinary campaign with a reassuring calm, working his way into the public’s affection with his light hearted approach to weekly press conference’s and seemingly being indifferent to the mounting pressure as the season began to head into the home stretch.
When David met Goliath at the Etihad Stadium it was again Leicester who were expected to falter on the final charge. Faced with a Manchester City side that had a team assembled from the finest talent that money could buy, Sergio Aguero and his star studded team mates were expected to put the Foxes back into their hole.
Leicester and Robert Huth had not read the script however, as the German centre half thundered home two towering headers in a 3-1 victory that sent shockwaves through football. The miracle was edging ever closer.
Tottenham Hotspur began to emerge as the only real threat as the season drew to a conclusion, an ill tempered 2-2 draw with arch rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge would hand the title over to Claudio Ranieri’s men as Jamie Vardy threw a famous party at his house, in uplifting scenes that gave football fans across the nation a reason to dream again.
Serenaded onto the pitch in their final game of the season by famous Italian Tenor Andrea Bocelli, it was a fitting and emotional moment that encapsulated this incredible journey from the most unlikeliest Premier League Champions of all time.
A truly genuine feel good story that showed us that romance in football was indeed still alive as the rank outsiders bloodied the noses of the corporate big guns in a series of displays that seemed to show that the embodiment of the human spirit cannot be bought and sold.
What this team lacked in stardust was nullified by an unbreakable unity of mind, body, and soul that could not be overcome by the highest bidder.
For that reason this triumph shall go into folklore as one of the greatest of all time.