Gianluigi Donnarumma revealed he was unaware Italy had beaten England when making the decisive save on Bukayo Saka's penalty in the Euro 2020 final.

The 22-year-old also kept out Jadon Sancho's attempt from the spot, while Marcus Rashford hit the post, as Italy prevailed 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time at Wembley.

Donnarumma's reaction to saving Saka's attempt was muted, with the goalkeeper calmly walking away before being mobbed by his team-mates.

But he has explained his response to helping Italy clinch their first European Championship crown since 1968 was due to him losing track of the score, rather than being in complete control of his emotions.

"I didn't realise we had won," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I looked at the referee and tried to understand if everything was okay.

"Then I turned to my team-mates and they ran towards me. From there everything started. I didn't understand anything."

 

Donnarumma was named UEFA's Player of the Tournament after his heroics against England, which followed a crucial penalty save in the semi-final shoot-out win against Spain.

The 719 minutes racked up by Donnarumma was the most by any player at Euro 2020; he missed only the closing stages of Italy's win against Wales in the group stage.

He is now expected to complete a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain following the expiration of his contract at Milan, where he had spent his entire career.

"I will always be tied to the Rossoneri," Donnarumma said when asked about his future. "For now, I'm just going to enjoy the party and then enjoy a vacation.

"I will always be a Milan fan and I wish them all the best in the world."

Donnarumma has now won all five of the shoot-outs he has been involved in with club and country in his career, three of those for Milan.

In his final season at San Siro, he kept 14 clean sheets in Serie A – a joint-high along with Inter's Samir Handanovic – to help Milan to their highest league finish since 2012.

Roberto Mancini has overseen arguably one of the all-time great transformations in international football, not only turning Italy into a team that has a clear and fresh identity, but also a side that is successful.

When they lost 1-0 to Portugal on September 10, 2018 in the Nations League, who'd have thought that by the next time they suffered defeat they'd have won the European Championship? The fact that's the case despite Euro 2020 being delayed for 12 months is all the more impressive.

While the Azzurri required a penalty shoot-out against England in Sunday's final at Wembley, it's fair to say Italy were worthy victors in the end, with their hosts' caution only taking them so far.

In fact, England's pragmatism was arguably akin to the philosophy historically associated with Italy, but under Mancini they've truly embraced a tactical fluidity that has seemingly altered the perception many have of them.

Press smart, work smart

Intense off-the-ball work and a high press have almost become mainstream in modern football. While they aren't necessarily prevalent aspects of every team, not even every great team, many of the world's finest coaches try to implement them to a certain degree.

At Euro 2020, it's been a core strength of Italy – but it's not just a case of chasing down opponents like headless chickens. They've proven themselves to be smart.

 

The average amount of passes Italy allow their opponents to have in their own defensive third before initiating a defensive action is 13 (PPDA). Seven teams at the tournament pressed with greater intensity, but none were as effective as Italy.

Their 56 high turnovers were matched by Denmark but Italy boasted a tournament-high 13 that led to a shot, while three resulted in a goal – that too was bettered by no other team.

It suggests that, while other sides such as Spain (8.1 PPDA) pressed higher, Italy were better at picking their moments and knowing when to up the intensity.

Italy still managed to remain well balanced, too. Their average starting position of 42.9 metres from their own goal was deeper than six other teams, an important factor considering Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci aren't the quickest.

Yet they still pressed to greater effect that any of the others.

Establishing control

If there was one area of the pitch that you might point out as most crucial in Italy's Euro 2020 success (if we ignore Gianluigi Donnarumma's shoot-out saves), it would be their midfield.

Nicolo Barella, Marco Verratti and Jorginho were largely excellent as a trio, though the latter pair have attracted most of the acclaim.

In Verratti, Mancini seems to have a player who truly embodies their style of play – an excellent creator, he also does more than his fair share off the ball as one of the most complete central midfielders in the game today. He puts the fun in functional.

Verratti played the most key passes (14) of anyone at the tournament and ranked fourth for successful passes (87.1) and fifth for tackle attempts (4.0) per 90 minutes (at least 90 mins played).

 

The Paris Saint-Germain star also provided drive from the centre, with his 23 ball carries per 90 minutes bettered by just five midfielders, though only Pedri moved the ball between five and 10 metres upfield more often than Verratti (47), highlighting his progressive mentality.

Yet he didn't do it all on his own – after all, Verratti missed the first two games through injury. No, Jorginho had a similarly important function as the chief deep-lying playmaker, playing 484 successful passes, trailing only Aymeric Laporte.

On top of that, Jorginho showed his innate ability to sniff out danger and get Italy back on the move, with his 48 recoveries the second-highest among outfield players.

Given the presence of these two, it's no wonder Italy strung together the third-most sequences of 10 of more passes (123), yet at no point did you feel they got in each other's way, which again is testament to Mancini's setup.

 

Turning a weakness into a strength

The fact Italy were successful despite not having a particularly convincing striker highlighted the effectiveness of other areas of the team.

Ciro Immobile was Mancini's pick to lead the line. He wasn't necessarily bad, as his goal involvement output of four (two goals, two assists) was only trumped by Patrik Schick and Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, the Lazio man was by no means deadly in front of goal, hitting the target with just three of 18 shots. Among players with at least 10 attempts, just four were accurate with a smaller percentage than Immobile (16.7 per cent).

 

But so fluid were Italy that it didn't really matter. Immobile was one of five Italy players to net two goals, something no team has achieved at the Euros since France did in 2000.

At Italy's Coverciano coach training facility, there is said to have been a growing focus on the development of what are essentially formation-less tactics, and the fact Italy carried a threat from so many different positions suggests such a future actually isn't that far away.

Further to this, Italy showed real flexibility in attack. Sure, they scored 10 times inside the box, a figure third only to Spain and England, but the difference is the Azzurri also netted three from outside the area – no team managed more.

While you might expect that to reflect significantly in their expected goals (xG), Italy still pretty much scored exactly the number of goals one would ordinarily expect from the quality of their chances (13 goals, 13.2 xG), albeit one of those was an own goal.

 

Whether Italy have enough talent coming through to sustain this level and establish the first international 'dynasty' since the Spain side that won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 is another debate.

But there's little doubt Mancini has the know-how to make them the team to beat if the production line doesn't dry up.

Former Football Association (FA) chairman David Triesman believes the UK government must act to enforce tougher measures to prevent online racial abuse.

England players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were all targeted with racial abuse on social media following the Three Lions' penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

The FA and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson released statements condemning the abuse, while Gareth Southgate and England captain Harry Kane reiterated the stance of England's squad, who have taken the knee prior to kick-off in every game of Euro 2020.

A mural of Rashford in Manchester was also defaced, though well-wishers covered the graffiti with messages of support for the 23-year-old, whose efforts off the pitch have resulted in a government policy shift over the last year.

But Triesman, a member of the House of Lords who was the FA's chairman from 2008 to 2010, insists now is the time for stricter action.

"Well, it is a way in which people show their beliefs and their solidarity with their colleagues who come from different ethnic backgrounds and that's not a bad thing," Triesman told Stats Perform when asked for his views on England taking the knee.

"The fact that people do something that's visible together, I don't think is a bad thing. But I think what we must get past is politicians saying that they don't like it or saying that it's outrageous, and saying it [racism] cannot be tolerated, and then doing nothing about it, which is tantamount to tolerating it.

"And that's why I think it has to be translated into action. I really, I think it's true in many things in life, it's certainly true in politics, but it's true in football as well. It's not so much what you say, it's what you do. It's when people see what you do, and they can see what you say and what you're doing are the same thing.

"The change will only come if the football authorities and political authorities come together and say they are going to make changes and spell out what those changes are.

"I think that part of this has to be a legislative change in which the people who run the media platforms so often just describe themselves as the postman, they don't know what's under the envelope. I don't buy that at all. That's a recipe for seeing children abused online. It's a recipe for bullying. 

"We've seen all of these things. It's not like they're a mystery to us anymore and I think the media platforms have got to be held to account, even if it means that a very rich source of the material that goes on to them is simply cut off. There's a point at which people have to face their responsibilities."

Triesman added that the onus is also on the FA to take tougher action, as well as lobbying the government.

"If we catch them in grounds being racist and abusive, that should be the last day they get into a ground to see football," he continued.

"Stamp it out. Football can do a lot of this itself. But if it needs extra powers – if I was still at the FA I would be knocking on the door of government today saying, 'Here are the powers I've got, I'm going to use them. If I think they're deficient, I want more powers, because I'm absolutely determined'."

Lando Norris had his watch taken in an "incident" at the Euro 2020 final on Sunday, Formula One team McLaren have confirmed.

Norris was in attendance at Wembley as England lost on penalties to Italy in the European Championship decider.

There were scenes of unrest throughout the day at England's national stadium as individuals without tickets attempted to gain access to the long-awaited final.

Indeed, pictures in London showed supporters clashing inside and outside Wembley.

And McLaren announced on Monday their star driver was left "understandably shaken" following an incident which has been reported to the police.

The team said: "McLaren Racing can confirm that Lando Norris was involved in an incident, after the Euro 2020 final match at Wembley, during which the watch he was wearing was taken.

"Thankfully, Lando was unharmed but he is understandably shaken. The team is supporting Lando and we are sure that racing fans will join us in wishing him all the best for the British Grand Prix this weekend.

"As this is now a police matter we cannot comment further."

Heading into his home British Grand Prix, Norris is an impressive fourth in the F1 drivers' championship having earned a third podium of the season last time out in Austria.

Norris has collected points at 14 consecutive races, the best run of his F1 career and the longest ongoing streak in the series.

Fernando Alonso, in 2007, was the last McLaren driver to enjoy such a stretch.

Marcus Rashford has posted an emotional thanks for the support he has received following his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final, despite the Manchester United forward having been the recipient of racial abuse.

Rashford hit the post with his spot-kick in England's 3-2 shoot-out defeat to Italy – Gianluigi Donnarumma subsequently saving efforts from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

United star Rashford had been introduced by Gareth Southgate in the dying embers of extra time at Wembley, seemingly specifically with penalties in mind.

After the game, the 23-year-old – whose fight for children to have access to free school meals has led to a shift in UK government policy – along with Saka, Sancho and Raheem Sterling, was targetted by hateful messages on social media.

Channel 4, quoting a report by data company Signify, claimed close to 2,000 racially abusive tweets had been sent to the four players.

Southgate, the Football Association (FA) and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson all condemned the perpetrators, while England captain Harry Kane insisted anybody posting such messages was not wanted by the team as a supporter.

Meanwhile, a mural of Rashford in Withington, Manchester, was defaced overnight.

However, supporters of Rashford have since covered the graffiti with messages of support, while United's official Twitter account posted: "We're all behind you, @MarcusRashford.

"As a player. As a person. As an inspiration to our club and our supporters. As a representation of hope that there is plenty more good than bad in the world."

On Monday, Rashford posted an emotional message, firstly apologising for his missed penalty.

"I don't even know where to start and I don't even know how to put into words how I'm feeling at this exact time," Rashford wrote.

"I've had a difficult season, I think that's been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence. I've always backed myself for a penalty but something didn't feel quite right.

"During the long run up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted. I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I'd let everyone down.

"A penalty was all I'd been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep so why not that one? It's been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there's probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. One penalty. History.

"All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of [sic] gone differently. Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout out my team-mates. This summer has been one of the best camps I've experienced and you've all played a role in that. A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine."

He then went on to thank the well-wishers for their support, though reiterated he would never apologise for "who I am and where I came from."

“I've grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch," Rashford continued.

"I've felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands. I dreamt of days like this. The messages I've received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears.

"The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up. I'm Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that."

Marco Verratti ended his Euro 2020 campaign as he started it – looking on as a frustrated spectator, willing his team-mates to victory.

Those do not exactly sound like the activities of a player of the tournament candidate, but what Verratti did in between those moments of stasis did more to define Italy's march to glory than anything else.

Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka from 12 yards after Marcus Rashford hit the post to hand Italy a 3-2 victory on penalties after a 1-1 draw with England at Wembley in Sunday's final.

Those heroics led to UEFA giving the Azzurri goalkeeper their Player of the Tournament award, but there is undoubtedly a case for recognising Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Verratti as the key influence upon Roberto Mancini's free-flowing side.

Joining the party in Rome

Italy had already booked their place in the knockout stages before Verratti managed to kick a ball, with Turkey and Switzerland swept aside 3-0 at a joyous Stadio Olimpico.

Manuel Locatelli, the Sassuolo midfielder, was selected in Verratti's absence and performed superbly, scoring a brilliant brace in the Switzerland match.

In that context, Verratti's outing in the dead rubber against Wales could very easily have been a matter of getting minutes in the legs and not a whole lot else, but the 28-year-old made an inarguable case.

 

Returning from his 10th illness or injury setback of 2020-21, including two positive tests for coronavirus, Verratti was instantly into the groove. He won a free-kick just before half-time that he clipped in delightfully for Matteo Pessina to score the only goal of the game.

By full-time he led the way in terms of touches (136), passes completed (103), chances created (five) and tackles (four).

From sidelined to undroppable

Mancini proceeded with caution when it came to his star creator, as Italy landed at Wembley for the first time to face Austria in the knockout stages.

He played 67 minutes of the 2-1 extra-time win. Even in that spell, he managed to create more chances than any other Italy player (four) and completed 67 of his 70 passes, with 46 of those coming in the opposition half (95.7 per cent completed).

In the thrillingly intense quarter-final versus Belgium, Verratti's workload was stretched a little more to 74 minutes.

 

No Azzurri player, even his metronomic midfield ally Jorginho, made (89) or completed (84) more passes. His assist for Nicolo Barella's opening goal was one of three chances he created and 73 passes in the opposition half.

Only full-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo contested more than Verratti's 16 duels, with his 104 touches another team-high.

Conquering Spain and England – two very different challenges

The semi-final against Spain pitted Italy's midfield against one arguably even more gifted than their own, as Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Koke combined with false nine Dani Olmo to help restrict Mancini's men to an unusually low 30 per cent of the ball as the 120 minutes finished 1-1.

Again used for 74 minutes, Verratti's passing numbers were way down to 30 attempted and 23 completed, but his impressive combativeness makes him a midfielder for all situations.

Over the course of the tournament, his 18 tackles (nine successful) were more than any other player in his position, an average of four per 90 minutes. He also recovered possession 37 times. Jorginho registered 25 on that metric and his competition-best 25 interceptions further underscored Mancini having the perfect blend with and without the ball in his engine room.

Italy were never as likely to spend chunks of the game chasing the ball against a more reactive England, but they were caught cold by Gareth Southgate's surprise switch to a 3-4-3 – wing-backs Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw combining for a second-minute opener that sent Wembley into raptures.

The opening half-hour threatened to run away from Mancini's men as England continued their tournament-long habit of starting with authority, but Italy gradually turned the tide and Verratti was key.

 

His eloquent scheming truly flourished when Domenico Berardi replaced the ineffective Ciro Immobile, meaning a fluid Italy attack had no fixed focal point. England were in strife before Leonardo Bonucci's scrambled 67th-minute equaliser.

That came after Verratti tenaciously got in front of Mason Mount to have a diving header saved, but the key feature of his performance were all the impeccably judged, picked and weighted passes.

He threaded 118 overall, completing an astounding 111, dragging England to distraction in his 96 minutes on the field.

Verratti departed in extra-time looking crestfallen, left to only hope his team-mates could complete a triumph that would have been impossible without him. Whenever he was on the field, things rarely felt so much in the balance.

The Football Association (FA) will conduct a review into the "unprecedented level of public disorder" that marred Sunday's Euro 2020 final.

Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Wembley, although the hours building up to the game were dominated by scenes of unruly conduct on Wembley Way and in Leicester Square, both of which were left strewn with litter and debris.

That unrest was then wrought upon the match venue itself as supporters without tickets – successfully in some cases – attempted to enter the stadium.

The FA will work in association with the Metropolitan Police, who made 49 arrests in connection with the final.

"We will carry out a full review and investigation into the events that took place at Wembley Stadium before and during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final," an FA statement read.

"This will be done in collaboration with the Police, the Greater London Authority, the Safety Advisory Group and the tournament delivery stakeholders."

Despite footage of security being apparently overwhelmed by people looking to charge the stadium, the FA said security provision "exceeded requirements for the match".

"However, the behaviour of the people who illegally forced their way into the stadium was unacceptable, dangerous and showed total disregard for the safety and security protocols in place," the statement continued.

"No steward or security staff should be subjected to this type of behaviour and we thank them for their support on the night.

"We also apologise to anyone at the match whose experience was affected by this unprecedented level of public disorder.

"We will continue to work with the relevant authorities to identify and take action against these people where possible."

Despite those events, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on Monday that his country – along with Ireland – had a "very good case" for hosting the 2030 World Cup.

England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all suffered racist abuse online after missing their penalties during the shoot-out, with a mural of Manchester United forward Rashford defaced in his native Withington.

Jorginho is attracting interest from a number of clubs but will remain a Chelsea player next season unless "a serious offer" is tabled, according to his agent.

The 29-year-old has spent the past three seasons at Stamford Bridge and has another two years to run on his existing contract with the European champions.

Former Napoli midfielder Jorginho finished the 2020-21 campaign as Chelsea's leading Premier League scorer with seven goals, albeit each of those came from the penalty spot.

He carried that form into Euro 2020, playing every game for Italy in their successful campaign that ended with a penalty shoot-out win over England in Sunday's final at Wembley.

Jorginho has regularly been linked with a return to Italy, while Barcelona were also recently credited with an interest, but representative Joao Santos expects him to stay.

"He has a two-year contract," Santos told Calciomercato. "It's all in the hands of Chelsea.

"There's the Club World Cup next season and the European Super Cup. For a footballer, these are important targets.

"But the transfer market is always the transfer market and if a major club comes forward with a serious offer to Chelsea, then we will evaluate.

"At the moment, Jorginho will play at Chelsea next season."

Asked about the rumoured interest from Juventus, who recently reappointed Massimiliano Allegri, Santos said: "I can confirm it, these interests have arrived. 

"Of course, at 29, he can do very well in all the top European clubs, and many are interested in him.

"However, I want to close by saying that I'm happy all Italians can breathe the air of champions today."

Jorginho missed from the spot in Italy's shoot-out win against England, but he otherwise enjoyed an impeccable tournament for the Azzurri.

The Brazilian-born player led the way in terms of interceptions at Euro 2020 with 25, substantially more than Chelsea team-mate N'Golo Kante (14), who was next best.

Meanwhile, Jorginho's 484 successful passes were bettered only by Spain's Aymeric Laporte (644), leading to seven chances being created for his team-mates. Only Azzurri team-mate Lorenzo Insigne (40) was involved in more shot-ending sequences than his 38.

"Jorginho is an example of true integration into the Italy side," Santos added. "Blood is not involved, he sees Italy as his homeland.

"In Italy he sees immeasurable feelings. He feels Italian even though he was born in Brazil; everyone should learn from such a strong feeling."

Jude Bellingham has spoken out on the racist abuse directed at England team-mates Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, calling for social media platforms to do more.

Bellingham was among the substitutes for the Three Lions as they lost on penalties to Italy in Sunday's Euro 2020 final.

Saka, Rashford and Sancho each stepped off the bench in the 1-1 draw and missed spot-kicks in the 3-2 shoot-out defeat. Saka's failed effort, saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, was decisive.

The trio were subsequently the subject of racist abuse, which the Football Association condemned, and manager Gareth Southgate described as "unforgivable".

Bellingham, the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder, added his anger on social media alongside an image showing Saka, Rashford and Sancho wearing crowns.

"We win together and we lose together," he said. "So proud to have team-mates with such top character. Takes huge b******s just to volunteer [to take a penalty].

"As for the racism, hurtful but not surprising. Will never get bored of saying that more needs to be done. Educate and control the platforms!"

Bellingham celebrated his 18th birthday while away with the England team, having become their youngest player at a major tournament when he appeared from the bench against Croatia.

That was the first of three substitute appearances, tallying 55 minutes across wins over Croatia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

Following defeat in the Wembley showpiece, Bellingham posted: "A devastating end to a journey we can be very proud of.

"Very grateful to have been given the experience to share a pitch and changing room with such a great group of players and people. Thank you for your incredible support over the past few weeks.

"It wasn't to be but our time will come... Always believe!"

Having been scrapped last year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Ballon d'Or returns in 2021.

With Euro 2020 and the Copa America rescheduled for this year, the stars of Europe and South America had the chance to use those tournaments as a springboard towards claiming the game's top individual prize.

Italy and Argentina lifted the respective trophies at the weekend, with the Azzurri beating England in a penalty shoot-out and La Albiceleste seeing off bitter rivals Brazil at the Maracana to win the Copa for the first time since 1993.

Stats Perform has looked at 13 of the leading candidates to feature at either tournament to determine how their chances look heading into the new season.

Jorginho

Before Euro 2020, N'Golo Kante was the Chelsea midfielder seen to be within the best shot of scooping individual honours at the end of 2021, but a month on it's Jorginho who is the European champion at club and international level.

While he has perhaps been underappreciated or misunderstood at times with Chelsea, perhaps supporters will see him in a new light after playing a vital role in Italy's success as their deep-lying playmaker.

Robert Lewandowski

It's widely accepted that, had the award been handed out last year, it would have gone to Robert Lewandowksi, the man whose 55 goals in 47 games delivered Bayern the treble.

How do you follow that? Well, he scored 41 times in the Bundesliga alone in 2020-21, breaking Gerd Muller's 49-year-old single-season record. Lewandowski's Ballon d'Or hopes arguably aren't any worse now than before the Euros as no one will have expected Paulo Sousa's men to make much of an impact. He got three goals in as many games and was only out-scored by six players, which is a solid achievement.

 

Marco Verratti

Had he not been injured for the first two games of Euro 2020, there's every possibility it would have been Verratti being crowned as player of the tournament, with the Paris Saint-Germain star arguably the player who embodies the qualities of Roberto Mancini's transformed Italy side more than any other.

Not only did he create more chances than anyone else at Euro 2020 (14), but averaged more touches (114.5) than anyone, played the fourth-most passes (87.1) and ranked third for tackles (four) per 90 minutes among all players to have featured for at least 125 minutes. His all-action excellence set the tone for the Azzurri's vibrant and, ultimately, successful football.

 

N'Golo Kante

Kante inspired Chelsea to Champions League glory, named man of the match in both legs of the semi-final versus Real Madrid and the final against Manchester City.

But France's last-16 elimination by Switzerland will have done little to boost his chances, with Paul Pogba rather than Kante the standout figure for Les Bleus. While a nomination is almost a certainty, taking the gong home now looks beyond the all-action midfielder.

Kevin De Bruyne

A second successive PFA Players' Player of the Year award for Kevin De Bruyne came after another standout season for Manchester City in which he won the Premier League and EFL Cup.

His exceptional quality was further underlined by the fact only Verratti created more chances than him over the course of the tournament, an impressive feat given he started the tournament late due to injury and then had to play through another fitness issue in Belgium's final match, but that's unlikely to be enough to earn him the award.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Generally, the player considered to be the best at a major international competition has a pretty good chance of winning further accolades, so in that case Donnarumma may have a reasonable opportunity after UEFA crowned him Euro 2020's Player of the Tournament.

Statistically there were numerous goalkeepers who were more important than him to their respective teams given he technically didn't prevent any goals according to Opta's xGOT metric – Tomas Vaclik's prevented a tournament-high 2.5. Nevertheless, Donnarumma wasn't guilty of any drops or errors that led to shots, and made crucial saves across two penalty shoot-outs, including a couple in the final.

 

Harry Kane

Another star performer in 2020-21 to end the season empty-handed, Harry Kane finished top for goals (23) and assists (14) in the Premier League despite Tottenham finishing seventh.

A slow start to Euro 2020 followed, although Kane scored four times in the knockout phase as he played a key role in England's journey to the final. But when it mattered most he failed to have a single touch in the Italy penalty area. A talismanic performance in the showpiece may have put him firmly in the running, but it's difficult to see him being a major contender now.

Romelu Lukaku

The best player in Serie A as Inter ended an 11-year wait to win the title, Romelu Lukaku enjoyed the best season of his career, with 41 direct goal involvements in 44 appearances.

He certainly cannot be accused of failing to deliver for Belgium given he scored four times, but they came up short against Italy in the quarter-finals, with a partially injured De Bruyne unable to truly weave his magic. Lukaku's influence upon Inter shouldn't be overlooked, but the achievements of others on the international stage may overshadow his own.

Lionel Messi

The winner of the previous award in 2019 – the sixth of his astonishing career – Lionel Messi amazingly plundered 28 goals and had nine assists for Barcelona from January 1 onwards.

It wasn't enough to win Barca the LaLiga title, but it did put him right in the mix and he followed that up with a starring role in Argentina's Copa triumph, the first senior international trophy of his career. Given his lack of success with La Albiceleste was arguably the final barrier to clear in his career, a Ballon d'Or will surely follow later this year as he led Lionel Scaloni's men with four goals (joint-most) and five assists (the most).

 

Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain lost their Ligue 1 title to Lille and could not reach back-to-back Champions League finals, which seems incredible given Kylian Mbappe managed 42 goals and 11 assists in just 47 appearances.

Departing Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick this year said there was no question Mbappe would win the Ballon d'Or one day, but it probably won't be in 2021. He was one of the biggest disappointments at Euro 2020, failing to score once despite his chances having an accumulative xG value of 2.02 – that under-performance was second-worst to Gerard Moreno (3.32).

Neymar

Even Neymar would admit he only had an outside chance of winning this year's Ballon d'Or ahead of the Copa America, his 17 goals and eight assists in 2020-21 a modest return for the world's most expensive footballer.

While his performances with Brazil would see him included in most people's team of the tournament, he wasn't dependable in front of goal, his one non-penalty strike coming from 5.3 xG, an under-performance unmatched by anyone in the tournament. He'll have to wait a bit longer for the prize he supposedly craves above all others.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus may have lost their grip on Serie A, but Cristiano Ronaldo still finished as top goalscorer (with 29), and they won the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia.

He definitely didn't do his chances any harm as he won the Golden Boot for most goals (five) – beating Patrik Schick by virtue of having more assists – after becoming the Euros' all-time leading scorer (11) and levelling Ali Daei's world-record haul of 109 international goals, but Portugal's failure to get beyond the last 16 won't help.

 

Luis Suarez

Discarded by Barcelona for being past his usefulness, Luis Suarez responded with 21 goals in 32 games to propel Atletico Madrid to a first league title since 2013-14.

But he could only muster one goal at the Copa America as he and Uruguay had a minimal impact, meaning it'll take something special for Suarez to be a major candidate at the end of the year.

Harry Kane may already be looking ahead to next year's World Cup with England but the Tottenham striker's short-term targets are less clear amid uncertainty over his club future.

The England captain suffered heartbreak with his team-mates on Sunday, the Three Lions losing to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley following a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.

Luke Shaw gave the hosts the lead inside two minutes as he scored the fastest-ever goal in a European Championship final, only for Leonardo Bonucci to hit back for the Azzurri in the second half.

Kane converted his penalty in the shoot-out, but he otherwise endured a quiet match as he failed to have a single touch of the ball inside the opposition box. Indeed, the 27-year-old did not have a shot or create any chances for his team-mates for only the second time in his 61 senior international appearances.

However, Kane finished the tournament with four goals – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (five each) managed more – to draw level with Gary Lineker as his nation's leading scorer at major tournaments.

While disappointed to fall at the final hurdle, the prolific striker is determined to push on at Qatar 2022.

"Last night hurts. It'll hurt for a long time. But we've come so far and broken down so many barriers that this is not the end," he posted on his Twitter account on Monday. 

"We win together, lose together and will regroup together for the World Cup. Thanks for all your support this summer."

It remains to be seen whether Kane will still be a Tottenham player come the time the next World Cup begins, though. He revealed last week he had yet to speak to new boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who was named as Jose Mourinho's permanent successor on June 30.

Fabio Paratici, now managing director at the Premier League club, also stressed last week that Spurs have no intention of selling the "special player" while he has three years to run on his contract.

"Of course, as a player you want to be wanted, you want to feel like you're loved, which I do," Kane said when asked about his Tottenham future.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to any of these people yet. I'm sure we'll get to know each other after the Euros, have a phone call or two once I get a week or two of holiday."

Keeping hold of Kane will be the top priority for Paratici and Nuno, the former Leicester City loanee having finished as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals in 2020-21.

Kane also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Manchester City are rumoured to have already had a big-money offer knocked back by Tottenham, while Manchester United have also been linked.

Tottenham's players not involved in international action over the past month returned to training last week ahead of their first pre-season friendly with Leyton Orient on Saturday.

Spurs are also set to take on Colchester United, MK Dons, Chelsea and Arsenal before their Premier League opener with Manchester City on August 15.

Italy ended their 53-year wait for a second European Championship crown with victory over England in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

Leonardo Bonucci cancelled out an early Luke Shaw goal to take the game to extra time and then penalties, which the Azzurri edged 3-2 to inflict heartbreak on hosts England.

Italy's triumph was deserved on the basis of the qualifying campaign and the tournament itself; Roberto Mancini's side have now gone 34 games unbeaten in all competitions.

England can also be proud of their run, and it is perhaps no surprise that the two finalists dominate Stats Perform's best XI of the tournament.

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo is also included in our Opta data-driven side, along with players from Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

 

Goalkeeper: Yann Sommer (Switzerland)

Gianluigi Donnarumma may have been named UEFA's Player of the Tournament for his penalty shoot-out heroics against Spain and Italy, but Sommer gets the nod after enjoying an incredible tournament.

The Swiss goalkeeper saved a Kylian Mbappe penalty in his side's shoot-out win against France in the last 16 and made a tournament-high 21 saves in total, 10 of those coming in the eventual defeat to Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals.

 

Right-back: Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)

Dumfries' reputation was certainly enhanced during Euro 2020, even if the Netherlands were sent packing by the Czech Republic at the last-16 stage.

He became just the second ever Netherlands player, after Ruud van Nistelrooy, to score in his first two European Championship appearances, while also helping his side to a couple of clean sheets in his four outings.

Centre-back: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Juventus defender Bonucci was a rock at the heart of Italy's defence, particularly in the quarter-finals when frustrating Belgium's plethora of attackers.

No defender made more interceptions than the 34-year-old (12, level with Ukraine's Mykola Matvienko), and it was his bundled finish that drew his country level against England in the final.

Centre-back: John Stones (England)

England conceded just two goals all tournament, with only one of those coming in open play. A large part of that was down to ever-present defender Stones, who carried his club form with Manchester City onto the international stage.

Stones won 20 aerial challenges – the joint-second most of any defender in the competition, one behind Harry Maguire – and his 447 successful passes placed him behind only Jordi Alba (458) and club-mate Aymeric Laporte (644).

Left-back: Luke Shaw (England)

Shaw was left out for England's opening game against Croatia, but the full-back soon made himself a consistent presence. He was even compared to the great Roberto Carlos after starring with two assists against Ukraine in the quarter-finals.

The Manchester United defender provided three assists in total and netted the fastest-ever goal in a European Championship final with his volley against Italy. Those four goal involvements were bettered only by Patrik Schick (five) and Ronaldo (six).

 

Central midfield: Marco Verratti (Italy)

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was a major fitness doubt for the tournament and sat out Italy's first two matches, but boy did he make an impact in the following five games.

Since his first game against Wales on June 20, all-rounder Verratti ranked first among all midfielders at Euro 2020 for chances created (14), passes completed (388), progressive carries (59), tackles (18) and recoveries of possession (37).

Central midfield: Pedri (Spain)

A number of young players enjoyed a breakthrough tournament at this edition of the Euros, arguably none more so than Barcelona superstar in the making Pedri, who made more passes in the opposing half (348) than any other player at the Euros.

He became the second European player to start as many as five games at the age of 18 or below in major tournament history, after Northern Ireland's Norman Whiteside. Proving age is just a number, Pedri completed all 55 of his passes in regular time in the semi-final loss to Italy.

Right wing: Federico Chiesa (Italy)

Versatile wide player Chiesa was always going to be one to watch at the Euros, having stepped up on the big occasions for Juventus last season with goals in key matches, including their Coppa Italia triumph against Atalanta.

He scored Italy's extra-time opener in their last-16 win against Austria and put his side ahead against Spain in the semi-finals. He was not afraid to shoot – only three others did so on more occasions – and was arguably Italy's most dangerous player in the final.

Attacking midfield: Patrik Schick (Czech Republic)

Schick not only scored the joint-most goals, his five strikes putting him level with Ronaldo, but he was responsible for surely the most memorable one of the lot - a 49.7-yard lob against Scotland, the furthest ever distance a goal has been scored at a European Championships.

The Bayer Leverkusen forward found the net in all but one of his side's games, with three of his goals coming from open play, compared to just two for Golden Boot winner Ronaldo.

 

Left wing: Raheem Sterling (England)

England's run to the final would not have been possible if not for the fine form of Sterling, the Manchester City winger responsible for his side's first three goals in the competition.

That includes winning strikes against Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stage, followed by the opener against Germany in the last 16, before assisting Kane's early goal against Ukraine. Even when not scoring he was a real threat, leading the way with 20 dribbles completed – four more than next player on the list in Frenkie de Jong.

Centre-forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Even though it was far from a vintage tournament for Ronaldo and dethroned champions Portugal, the Juventus superstar still claimed the Golden Boot accolade thanks to having one assist more than fellow five-goal forward Schick.

Ronaldo's 72 minutes per goal was the best return of any player to have played at least three times in the tournament. His haul also moved him level with Iran great Ali Daei as the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football with 109, a record that he will get a chance to break later this year.

 

Jack Grealish has hit back at criticism following England's Euro 2020 shoot-out heartache against Italy, insisting he wanted to take a penalty.

Gareth Southgate's side lost 3-2 on spot kicks following three successive failures from 12 yards by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

The game had finished 1-1, with the teams unable to be separated in extra time after Leonardo Bonucci's scrambled effort midway through the second half cancelled out Luke Shaw's second-minute opener.

Much of the focus was placed on England's choice of penalty takers afterwards, with Southgate taking full responsibility for selecting who would step forward.

Rashford and Sancho were introduced during the dying minutes, while Arsenal teenager Saka had never taken a penalty in his professional career.

"If you're [Raheem] Sterling or Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid [Saka] go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can't," former Manchester United captain Roy Keane told ITV.

"You cannot let a shy 19-year-old go up in front of you. They have a lot more experience, Sterling has won trophies, they had to get in front of the young kid and stand up."

Grealish tweeted in response to Keane, saying: "I said I wanted to take one!!!!

"The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight!

"But I won't have people say that I didn't want to take a 'peno' when I said I will..."

 

Speaking at his post-match news conference, Southgate insisted Grealish and Sterling – who was one of England's standout performers with three goals and an assist during the competition – being omitted from the chosen five was based upon preparations on the training ground.

"I chose the penalty takers based on what we've done in training and nobody is on their own," he said.

"We've won together as a team and it's absolutely on all of us in terms of not being able to win the game."

Grealish made five appearances at Euro 2020, four of which came as a substitute. He provided assists for Sterling's early winner in the 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic and Harry Kane's header as England saw off Germany 2-0 in the last 16.

Gareth Southgate wants his England squad to heal together following the pain of losing the Euro 2020 final - and insisted abuse aimed towards any of his players is "unforgiveable".

England's hopes of glory at Wembley on Sunday were dashed by Italy in a penalty shoot-out, during which substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka failed to convert from the spot.

The trio were targets for racist online abuse in the aftermath to the match. The Football Association condemned such behaviour in a strongly worded statement, as well as calling on both the government and social media companies to take action to stop such incidents continuing to occur.

Speaking the morning after his team's heartbreaking defeat, England boss Southgate made clear his squad had been a "beacon of light" during the European Championship, helping unite the nation during their impressive run.

"I'm not totally across everything, but my first thoughts this morning are with the boys that have done so well for us," he said.

"The players have had such a great togetherness and spirit and brought our country together. They should be, and I think they are, incredibly proud of what they have done.

"For some of them to be abused is unforgivable. Some of it has come from abroad, we have been told this, but some of it is from this country.

"It's not what we stand for. We have been a beacon of light to bring people together and the national team stands for everybody. That togetherness has to continue.

"We felt the energy and positivity from the fans and I'm incredibly proud of that."

Southgate added: "We heal together as a team now, we are there for them [the players who missed penalties] and I know that 99 per cent of the public will be as well, because they will appreciate how well they have played."

 

England seized an early lead thanks to Luke Shaw's first international goal after less than two minutes but were pegged back by Leonardo Bonucci's second-half equaliser, forcing extra time.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved penalties from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho, yet Saka saw his attempt - England's fifth - turned away by Gianluigi Donnarumma, meaning Italy prevailed 3-2 at the end of an dramatic shoot-out.

While his focus will have to quickly switch to securing qualification for next year's World Cup in Qatar, Southgate admitted he is in need of a break.

Asked about reports he could be offered a new contract, Southgate replied: "I don't think now is an appropriate time to be thinking about it.

"We have to qualify for Qatar. I need time to go away and reflect on Euro 2020. I need a rest.

"Its an amazing experience to lead your country in these tournaments, but it takes a toll. I don't want to commit to anything longer than I should. It's not a financial thing.

"I don't want to outstay my welcome. But, as I sit here today, I would be wanting to take the team to Qatar."

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