Euro 2016: The beautiful game gets prettier in France

Pratik Sagar
Pratik SagarJun 24, 2016 | 15:43

Euro 2016: The beautiful game gets prettier in France

"Football is not a matter of life and death, it’s much more than that."

When the great Bill Shankly said this, he had transformed Liverpool into one of the most feared teams in the history of club football.

Decades on, it seems the entire footballing world has taken to this famous philosophy by one of the most prominent managers of all time.


The revolution of the underdogs was started by Leicester City in England and now the baton has passed on to teams like Iceland and Ireland, to name a few in Euro 2016.

Iceland's midfielder Arnor Traustason celebrates with Birkir Bjarnason (left).

The Germans, the Spanish and the French will always be there. The English will always make it to quarters and lose on penalties. A mysterious young team will rout the defending champions and become a force to be reckoned with.

A new golden generation of a European heavyweight will always fail to glitter to their maximum potential. But a "David" story is what catches the imagination of the world. They automatically become everyone's second team - just ask the American Dream Team of 1980.

The image of Ireland and Manchester United icon Roy Keane crying and hugging coach Martin O’Neill after Ireland stunned Italy is doing the rounds on the internet.

This is the same Keano who has more number of red cards than goals scored to his name scored in his illustrious career. The same Keano who even frightened Sir Alex Ferguson so much the gaffer asked him to leave Manchester United.


His reaction is being hailed as the barometer of the achievement by Ireland to enter the last-16.

For Iceland though, progressing into the pre-quarters is equivalent to learning how to fly a quinjet when you are one-year-old. Following their celebratory "antics" after holding Portugal to a draw, Cristiano Ronaldo branded Iceland as a team with "small mentality".

"Winter" probably came a bit too early for the three-time Ballon d'Or winner's liking. As it happens, the "small" Ireland has a win under its belt. More than what can be said for a winless Portugal, who only drew all their group matches.

People often forget Wales. Take out Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, and they are quite similar to Arsenal - a team capable of finishing fourth even if only three teams are participating. But the Dragons topped a group that had Wayne Rooney, Marek Hamsik and hooligans.

This is the same Welsh side that were languishing below 115 in FIFA world rankings in 2011. Five years down the line, they have taken Europe by storm. This is the Cinderella story Indian football can take inspiration from.

Switzerland and Poland round off a brilliant campaign by the so-called small teams at one of the biggest stages. It seems the decision of having more number of teams in Euro Championships is working quite well for UEFA.


But that doesn’t mean "he who shall not be named" didn’t take money from "you know who".

Last updated: June 24, 2016 | 15:43
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