Euro 2016: 24 fans from 24 countries give their verdicts on the tournament

Santos and Ronaldo with Cup on return to Lisbon

It won’t come as a massive shock to learn that I’ve enjoyed this tournament.

Portugal

The team didn’t really get going in Group F but I was thrilled with the Portugal performances in the knock-out stages. I was in Lens for the Croatia game in the second round. It is widely regarded as the worst game of the tournament but it wasn’t boring for the Portuguese fans inside the stadium.

Having lost three semi-finals to France in the past (1984, 2000 and 2006) it was a fantastic feeling to finally get the better of them. I said before that if Ronaldo was on-song we could aim for the semi-finals. Surprisingly Ronaldo was not at his best for most of the tournament and we won the whole thing. That’s what commitment and team spirit can do. Our coach Fernando Santos has worked wonders. Bruno Aguiar

France

Home advantage usually works for France teams but not this time. Having been rather fortunate to beat Germany in the semi-finals, this definitely feels like a missed opportunity. But France did better than some of the other nations with the weight of expectation on them. England undeniably have the talent but failed to deliver. Belgium have gifted individuals but looked overrated as a team, while Spain seem to be at the end of a cycle.

Italy were gritty and solid as always, and their quarter-final against Germany was one of the most intriguing matches of the tournament. Thankfully the Anglo-Russian hooliganism disappeared early on and was replaced by the magnificent atmosphere created by underdog nations like Wales, Iceland and Ireland. Légion d’honneurs to their supporters for their friendliness and fair play. Jean-Noel Calon

Wales

As a Wales fan who was initially just happy to see their country qualify for the tournament, I was thrilled to reach the semi-finals. I thought we’d get out of Group B, but winning the group and going on such a terrific run in the knock-out stages was incredible. The highlights were definitely the Russia and Belgium games, especially when we fell behind to Belgium and fought our way back to win 3-1. It showed huge character. To see Ashley Williams get on the scoresheet was special. You could see what it meant to him.

It’s hard to single any one player out. The whole team gave absolutely everything. But Hal Robson-Kanu was a revelation. I’ve been quite critical of him over the past few years, but in France he showed some real class. I’ve replayed his Belgium goal dozens of times. Aaron Ramsey’s energy and creativity was hugely missed against Portugal and I think we would have beaten them if he had played. We left France full of confidence and have a great chance of making Russia 2018. The Welsh have been great ambassadors for the country. Bring on the World Cup qualifiers. Craig Hawes

Germany

I’m moderately happy with how Germany performed. We showed some great talent and depth but were awful in front of goal all the way through. The big success for us was beating Italy for the first time in a competitive match, even if it was in a shaky penalty shootout. The two handballs that led to penalties against both Italy and France were disappointing. But with a bit of luck we could’ve won it. I’m not unhappy and we’ll turn our minds to Russia and defending the World Cup fairly quickly.

The tournament was a great success in achieving exactly what the expansion to 24 teams was designed to do. It gave smaller teams a chance to shine on the big stage. Wales and Iceland exceeded all expectations and obviously Portugal weren’t big favourites for the title either. In that sense this tournament has really given us a nice shake up of European football at national team level. Additionally, after the initial violence, it finished as a great sports party with many memorable moments of joy for players and fans. Adrian Stein

Italy

The most popular opinion in Italy is that we would have won this tournament – if Graziano Pellè and Simone Zaza hadn’t got their penalty kicks so horribly wrong in the quarter-finals. Pellè was far too cocky before his spot-kick and I doubt the Zaza dance will ever catch on. Germany won’t miss two penalties in a shootout very often, so it was disappointing not to take advantage of that.

Italy played well, especially against Belgium and Spain. Those two performances were memorable. It was a disappointing end to the tournament for Pellè, but let’s not forget the impact he had on the team before the quarter-finals. Emanuele Giaccherini was also fantastic, while Gianluigi Buffon proved his class both as captain and goalkeeper. There is a very positive sentiment towards Antonio Conte’s team for what they did this summer. Before Euro 2016 started a lot of people feared an early exit from Group E. We have no complaints and there’s something positive to build on for the World Cup in two year’s time. Federica D’Andria

Poland

We are really proud of our national team. From the impressive way we held Germany to a draw in Group C, to going toe-to-toe with Portugal in the quarter-final we played impressively against larger football nations. The players have really impressed and boosted their individual careers, while coach Adam Nawalka will stay and hopefully lead the team on another great run at the World Cup in Russia.

I saw Robert Lewandowski the other day in Warsaw. He was on his way out from a photo shoot for one of the Poland team sponsors. The area was dotted with young kids carrying footballs and hoping for an autograph, with glittering eyes, all captivated by the man who to them is the country’s new hero. In the times of heavy political animosity, it’s nice to remind ourselves that this great team is ours and makes all Poles proud. Daniela Miernik

Iceland

As a lad from Manchester who brexited the EU long before it was fashionable, this years Euros held extra spice in store for me. I’ve lived in Iceland for the last 11 years and we’re all very proud of how plucky little Iceland with their fantastic team spirit shone on the biggest stage of all this summer. When Iceland scored the stoppage time winner against Austria, the whole of Reykjavik celebrated like I have never seen before. As the drinks soaked into the carpet, I realised the next opponent would be England. And we all know what happened next...

I have never seen people celebrate a loss with as much pride as they did here in the game against France. “We won the second half at least,” people said and kept on celebrating. The Iceland team could never really lose in the eyes of their supporters. Just being there was a victory. Liam Molloy

Belgium

The general feeling is that we missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. We feel that our coach, Marc Wilmots, has let us down because of his lack of tactical skills and training. After the quarter-final elimination against Wales everybody was feeling miserable, but Wilmots said that two quarter-finals appearances in a row at major tournaments is not a bad result. We’re not amused with this attitude. But our football federation will struggle to find the Euros needed to replace him.

In between the doom and gloom of the opening defeat against Italy and getting a lesson in team spirit against Wales, we showed flashes of our talent against Republic of Ireland and Hungary. I’d have loved to have seen more of that. Belgium expected more and rightly so. Eden Renders

Switzerland

Switzerland played well for most of the tournament. We started with a narrow win against Albania and looked a bit uninspired against Romania, but we were getting up to speed in the last group game against France. That 0-0 draw could have done either way, but we created chances and looked solid. We were in a good place heading into the knock-out stages and I was disappointed when our tournament ended so quickly against Poland on penalties. Xherdan Shaqiri scored the goal of the tournament in that game, but sadly we never managed to get that important second goal. I don’t expect Arsenal to assign Granit Xhaka to penalty duties for the coming season either.

I enjoyed the 24-team format and thought the so-called lesser teams did themselves proud overall. People will never tire of supporting the outsiders. I like that success in football doesn’t necessarily means star players with big payslips, as long as there’s plenty of team spirit and determination. Ludovic Farine

Croatia

This tournament has been particularly cruel on Croatia fans. We played some beautiful football, having topped Group D following a stunning victory over reigning European Champions Spain. But to say that the Portugal match in the second round was a disappointment would be an understatement. It was an awful performance from both sides. Something just didn’t seem right about the Croatian team, and they were a shadow of the side who had impressed so spectacularly in the group stage. Luka Modric’s stunning volley against Turkey will live long in the memory, as will Ivan Perisic’s match-winning performance against Spain.

Croatian fans are still very disappointed, but we have a healthy mix of good youth and proven players to take us forward into the World Cup qualifying campaign. Matej Sinlovca

Republic of Ireland

“Stand up for the boys in green,” and stand they did! I don’t remember a time in my lifetime where our country has been more excited or proud. This tournament has been one of the most enjoyable in our history. Apart from the Belgium game we did ourselves proud. We have a new lifelong hero for our kids in Robbie Brady and our fans have made headlines for all the right reasons. Be it singing to nuns and babies or changing flat tyres and clearing up rubbish from the streets.

This was a tournament of the underdog plain and simple. We were all screaming for Iceland in their amazing victory and were gutted when Wales’s amazing run of good luck came to an end. It’s been a summer of amazing positivity in sport for Europe after Brexit, and I think it shows how strong we can be as a continent if we stick together. Natalie McLaughlin

England

England coach Roy Hodgson didn’t use the pre-tournament friendlies effectively. He appeared to arrive in France with no idea what his preferred starting line-up or even formation was. His decision to set up in a 4-3-3 formation in most of the games, despite only including one true winger in the squad, was baffling. While the performance against Russia seemed positive at the time, Slovakia and Wales subsequently brushed them aside with ease. England appeared to simply run out of ideas when both Slovakia and Iceland put 10 men behind the ball. It will be interesting to see where they go from here and who the new manager will be.

I thought the tournament began really well. I thoroughly enjoyed the group stage games, and despite being wary of what the expansion to 24 teams would mean for the quality of matches, the vast majority were very competitive. It was actually the knock-out stages I found on the whole to be less entertaining. As a Sunderland supporter I was surprised to see Emanuele Giaccherini excel for Italy. His goal against Belgium was superb and he was at times unrecognisable from the player who struggled to make an impact on Wearside. Alex Howarth

Northern Ireland

It’s a weird situation for Northern Ireland because if you’d said beforehand that we’d get to the second round, we’d have been delighted with that. Ultimately however, it feels like we sold ourselves short. Against Wales, we were widely regarded as playing the better football on the day, and yet they got the result and went on to beat Belgium. I’m not convinced that we could have beaten Belgium, but we should have beaten Wales. It’s been forgotten too that we had to play the tournament without Chris Brunt, one of our best players and a crucial part of our system.

For Northern Ireland fans, this tournament was all about letting the world know that “we exist” – a slogan that has gone viral among our support over the last few years and which reflects a longstanding feeling of neglect and patronising attitudes towards us. We were successful in that in the first week of the tournament, but unfortunately the achievement of Wales and Iceland has eclipsed us. For Northern Ireland, we very rarely have the opportunity to be the story. This was our chance but it feels a bit like we missed it.

All that being said, the team looks well set for the future, and I’m hopeful that we can demonstrate in the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign that we aren’t a flash in the pan. Ian McKinney

Spain

Surprise results and the fall of great footballing potencies have embellished this tournament. Spain are the best example of this. Vincent Del Bosque’s system has gone from bad to worse. He stubbornly picked the same starting 11 over and over again and did not have the tactical ideas to overcome the likes of Antonio Conte.

Having been quietly impressive against Czech Republic and Turkey in the group stage, the tactics were found wanting once we faced quality opposition. So I’m disappointed with how my team performed overall. While no one expected a repeat of 2012, Spain had the players to go beyond four matches. They under-performed when it really mattered. Jose Alberto Miras Franco

Slovakia

My son and I went to see two Slovakia matches and really enjoyed the whole tournament. I was a bit worried before travelling to France. The conflicts between Russian and English supporters just before our two matches, made me a bit nervous and hesitant. But the atmosphere inside the stadiums turned out to be perfect and very friendly. My son took a ball with him and he was playing outside at the fan zone. England, France and Slovakia supporters all stopped for a while and had a kick about with him. Everybody was enjoying football and it was nice to observe.

For the Slovakia - Russia match we were sitting behind the goal where Marek Hamsik scored his wonderful goal. Getting through groub B was a big success for Slovakia and we are very proud even though we were hoping for a little bit more in the knock-out stages.

I don’t want to talk about the disappointments of Euro 2016. People say there weren’t enough goals and teams were too defensive. I really enjoyed it, and I’m happy that it passed without any horrible acts and that the fan violence in the beginning did not continue and grow into something bigger. I felt completely safe at all times. Jana Machajova

Hungary

I have mixed feelings about the 24-team format. Of course I was very glad to see Hungary taking part, and playing some really nice attacking football, but the group stage was like a walk in the park for the bigger nations. The only ones who enjoyed so many matches were the supporters of newcomers and underdogs. This came at the expense of real top quality football.

Hungary were breathtaking. I didn’t expect the fantastic way we beat Austria 2-0 in the first group game. Budapest was on fire. It felt like a carnival. I was lucky enough to travel to Marseille for the Iceland game. Before the match tens of thousands of Hungarian supporters walked along the main boulevard of the city singing chants, clapping, waving flags, torching lighters, amusing the locals. These were some of the best hours of my life.

Belgium outclassed us in the round of 16 but it was already a wonder to be there. The squad received a heroes’ welcome in Budapest’s main square on returning home. Adam Nagy must surely be a summer target for bigger European clubs. Some of the players will surely find themselves new clubs in competitive leagues around Europe based on their impressive performances. There’s real hope that the Hungarian football reformation will continue. Lenard Lajtos

Turkey

We are very disappointed with our national team. We only seemed to wake up in the last group game against Czech Republic and by then it was all too little too late. The fact that we had a chance of qualifying on the basis of that performance, especially after the Spain debacle, showed the weakness of the current tournament set up. We didn’t deserve to be anywhere near the knock-out stages.

Head coach Faith Terim came under fierce criticism after the non-event against Croatia, and while we didn’t expect much against Spain the abject hammering we received was utterly depressing. The shining light was young talented midfielder Emre Mor who looked the part against Czech Republic. But this was a very bad tournament for us. Eser Karadag

Albania

This was one of the best tournaments ever. Every team in the tournament had at least one good game. Despite Albania only leaving France with one point, I was still happy with the performances. We beat Romania and we made it really difficult for Switzerland and finalists France to beat us. Had Lorik Cana stayed on the pitch against Switzerland, we might have taken something from that game, while holding France to a 0-0 draw for 90 minutes was a spectacular effort. We had a good chance in the second half of that game too. Unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side and we only managed to find the net once. Like many of the other countries our fans were amazing, singing and shouting and all dressed in national colours.

What shocked me in this tournament was Portugal going all the way and winning the whole thing. They only won one game inside 90 minutes, but it just goes to show that anything is possible in football. And I thought Cristiano Ronaldo deserved the title this time. Endrit Metolli

Sweden

Our team did what we could expect from them. We are a little disappointed that they struggled so badly in front of goal though. Ireland defender Ciaran Clark turned out to be our top scorer with one (own) goal. I don’t know if the drawn out Manchester United transfer saga affected Ibrahimovic’s performances, or whether he was feeling the effects of a long league season, but he looked tired to me. There’s a new era of Swedish football to come, with a new coach and new players replacing ones that have announced their international retirement.

I didn’t like the new 24-team format much. There were too many games where quality was hard to find. I was disappointed in the likes of Spain and Belgium who didn’t seem to have much of a plan B. In many ways the top teams underestimated the smaller nations playing for their lives and didn’t seem to have the intelligence to break them down. If they had done their homework ahead of the tournament there would have been a lot less fairytales. Rickard Widegren

Romania

Romania did pretty much as I expected. There was a brief false dawn against France, when it took a special goal from Dimitri Payet to win the game for the hosts, and the 1-1 draw against Switzerland led to some pretty unrealistic expectations.

The TV commentators expected us to beat Albania and go through to the next round, although nothing we saw in the first two matches suggested they were really capable of beating Albania. We didn’t manage a single goal from open play. We were probably no worse than the more realistic supporters expected. We had no star players. No one caught the eye. No one performed beyond expectations. No one is going to get a big money move on the back of their performance in the Euros.

The performances of Northern Ireland, Wales and Iceland were my personal highlights of the tournament. Teams showed what passion and determination can achieve, as well as the limitations of those qualities. But they reminded me that football is about pride and character, and about desire and attitude. Maybe some of the football lacked the grace and beauty of Holland in 1974, but it’s been a joyous championship.

The Romanian fans did their best to support the team, but there’s a sort of fatalism that is part of the Romanian character. They loved the Northern Ireland supporters, but Romanians could never sing like that – unfortunately they are too pessimistic and too resigned. Ian Browne

Czech Republic

Czech Republic did exactly as expected finishing last in a poorer than expected group and being comprehensively outplayed in all three group games. Hopes were briefly raised when two late goals rescued an undeserved point against a Croatia team distracted by their fans’ behaviour. As expected, coach Pavel Vrba’s golden boy and big hope Tomas Rosicky was extremely ring rusty after his non-appearances for Arsenal last season. He managed more minutes at Euro 2016 than he did for Arsenal, which isn’t bad for the oldest player to represent the Czech Republic at a European Championship.

Vrba’s indecision over his best striker and the lack of quality available was also highlighted by two blanks and the only two goals scored against Croatia after Croatia fans decided to interrupt the game. The Czech FA praised Vrba after the Championships as he promptly scarpered to fill his pockets at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. Petr Cech’s international retirement after the Championships was bitter sweet as he has been a marvellous servant to his country. It’s a shame that his last appearances were in a team full of lame ducks. Iain Sellers

Austria

Supporting Austria I’ve always supported the outsider rather than the big teams and players. And when the tournament ended in disaster for Austria, the tournament was saved by the likes of Iceland and Wales. They were absolutely amazing and are the teams to follow in the future.

While Austria fought bravely defensively, their attacking play never worked out and that was a hugely bitter pill for me. I know we can do better than that, but I feel like we may not have been ready yet. There was possibly too much pressure on David Alaba, and it just didn’t work for Marko Arnautovic. The penalty miss against Iceland was crucial, and Austria never recovered from that. For the 2020 tournament I’d really like Austria and England to meet in a semi-final, but that will need a lot of work from both teams. Anna

Russia

The dismal performance of our national team this summer came as no surprise to me. If the first and most anticipated game against England was at least worth watching until the very end, the ghastly performance of our team in the next two games made me feel really despondent. The game against Slovakia really diminished any humble hope for our team getting into the knock-out stages and when Wales scored the third goal against us, I changed channels during a football match for the first time. I just couldn’t bear watching the end of such an ignominious game.

I thought our keeper Igor Akinfeev was the star performer. If it wasn’t for him those three games would have been even more painful to watch. And forward Artem Dzuba showed selfless and tenacious play when everything crumbled around him.

The problem with Russian football is systemic. Good players don’t just appear from nowhere; talent has to be noticed. Investment needs to be made in as many promising football clubs across the country as possible. There needs to be a focus on youth sport and the infrastructure rather than throwing money at foreign coaches and football stars. We still have two years ahead to prepare for the World Cup, but these mistakes can’t be allowed to happen again on home soil. Those in charge at the Russian football federation need to get it right. Stepan Puzyrnikov

Ukraine

My friends and I were attacked by hooligans in Lille. Up until then there had been a great atmosphere between the two sets of fans. I’m glad they only dominated the headlines for the first week of the tournament. They have no place in society.

The less said about Ukraine’s performances this summer the better. There were a few positives to take from our 2-0 loss against Germany in the first game, especially from the first half, but we just didn’t show up against Northern Ireland who thoroughly deserved their victory. The feeling is that Ukraine players underestimated Northern Ireland and it showed in the performance. The game against our neighbours Poland was a complete dead rubber as we were already out by then. No wins, no goals and statistically the worst team in the tournament. It’s no real surprise that the managerial position has been vacant for few weeks already. Ewhen Chymera

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian readers and Tom Stevens, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 12th July 2016 13.39 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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