After months of anticipation, countless soccer matches filled to the brim with ecstatic and heartbroken fans shouting their throats away, the 2020 UEFA European Championship has finally come to an end, and it is none other than Italy who came out on top. It’s only fitting given how mercilessly the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the country. After such a challenging year, Italy’s victory seems to signal a step away from the painful memories of last year and a wholehearted return to normative, peaceful, glorious life.
And yet, there are two sides to every story. For every spectacular victory, there’s a harrowing defeat. And this year’s unlucky losers were none other than England. With the last few matches being played in Wembly stadium and England sporting some of the most decorated and celebrated players in the world, it truly did seem as though the cards were all set for England to win this one. This would have been huge, given that the English national team hasn’t won any national gold since the 1966 World Cup, a deficiency which is embodied in many of the dissatisfied soccer anthems English fans sing game-in, game-out. It seemed as though the English team’s national curse was about to be, at long last, broken. But the curse manifested itself yet again in the most dramatic of ways. Not only did England lose, but they also lost in a penalty shootout (an England fan’s worst nightmare) in their home stadium.
And yet not even this sorrowful tale of England’s defeat can take away from Italy’s incredible victory. It was just the 2nd minute of the game when England scored a goal against the Italians, who, from that point onwards, fought an uphill battle and managed to pull off an incredible comeback. It is for these stories that we watch soccer, and there’s no doubt that soccer fans around the world woke up this morning, the day after the finals, with a huge smile on their face and a small hole in their heart.