It may not have been the most memorable of tournaments but Euro 2016 still provided us with some unbelievable moments.
Here we look back at the stories that captured the imagination of the football world during June and July.
10) Dimitri Payet’s late strike versus Romania
The scoreboard reads 1-1 in the Stade de France, this is not how the script is meant to go for hosts France after being held by Romania.
The tournament favourites were under pressure, but cometh the hour cometh the man. The country’s new golden boy Dimitri Payet struck to give France a late winner in the first game of the tournament, and what a strike it was too.
9) Italy gain revenge for 2012 final
No one will forget the master class that Spain put on during the 2012 championship, with a 4-0 win over Italy in the final capping off their dominance of world football. Fast forward four years and Spain are not quite the side they once were.
However, before the tournament the Italians were not heavily fancied either. They did prove their calibre with a 2-0 win over Belgium earlier in the tournament though, and carried through that dominance with a 2-0 victory over Spain in the last 16. Revenge for 2012 fulfilled.
8) Portugal and Hungary give us the match of the tournament
Knowing that a loss would send them packing, Portugal needed some sort of a result against the in-form Hungary.
The Portuguese came from behind three times in what turned out to be the match of the tournament, and it was the thrilling 3-3 draw that sent the eventual champions through.
Ronaldo scored twice in the game including an absolutely ridiculous flick that found its way to the bottom corner.
7) Xherdan Shaqiri’s stunner
Coming into the final ten minutes of Switzerland’s last 16 tie versus Poland they are 1-0 down and needed something special to force the match into extra-time. They got just that from Shaqiri.
The Stoke player scored an absolutely screamer of an overhead kick in the 82nd minute to keep Switzerland in the competition, albeit for an extra 30 minutes.
6) Germany knock out Italy, with help from Zaza
In a cagey match with not many clear-cut chances, Germany and Italy headed to penalties in their quarter-final tie. Italy manager Antonio Conte decided that it would tactically make sense to bring on Simone Zaza just before the shootout, fancying his penalty taking abilities.
What happened next sent the internet into overdrive as the Juventus player’s run up was unmercifully mocked as he sent the ball over the bar and into the stand behind while Germany went on to win the shootout 6-5.
5) Kanu helps Wales shock Belgium
One of the true success stories of this tournament, Wales navigated their way to the semi-finals. On their path they came across the hotly tipped Belgium, who many had backed to go on and win the entire tournament but, as they had done for the whole tournament, the Welsh rewrote the script.
Going 1-0 down to a Radja Nainggolan stunner, Wales gathered themselves and equalised through captain Ashley Williams, but it was Hal Robson Kanu’s goal that made headlines, with the free agent coming up with one of the greatest goals in European Championship history after a Cruyff turn inside the box fooled every Belgian defender. The 27-year-old then calmly slotted the ball into the corner to send Wales though.
4) Cristiano Ronaldo’s Injury
Love him or hate him, you can’t but respect Cristiano Ronaldo for dragging his side through to the final when all looked lost. Even people who cannot stand the Real Madrid superstar had to feel sorry for him when he came off injured in the final on Sunday night.
Even trying to play on after suffering his knee injury the look of devastation on the captain’s face when he realised his time was up is something we won’t forget.
3) Éder scores as Portugal win Euro 2016
A night that looked to be full of doom and gloom for Ronaldo turned into utter jubilation when Éder struck deep in extra-time with what turned out to be the winner.
The Lille striker’s tasty finish from 25 yards out will be one we’ll see on highlight reels for years to come.
2) Iceland knock England out
Who could have seen it coming? A country with a population of only 323,000 dumping out this promising English side. It was all going to plan for England in the beginning, going 1-0 up, but it quickly plummeted from there in one of footballing history’s greatest shocks.
Iceland had already received the communal support from the footballing world after their draw against Portugal and their lovable commentator who went viral.
The fairy tale continued as they outplayed England for the entire game and qualified for the quarter-finals.
1) Robbie Brady putting Ireland through to the knockout stage
A moment us Irish will never forget. Those who were there on that faithful night will tell you of how Wes Hoolahan’s ball floated in slow motion to land on Robbie Brady’s head.
All seemed lost for Ireland initially, especially after Hoolahan had missed a great chance just a minute before the goal, but another chapter was written in the Irish footballing story when the Norwich City man slotted the ball into the back of the Italian net.
Darragh Culhane, Pundit Arena
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