Euro 2016: Who were the surprise performers of the summer?
Euro 2016 has now come and gone amid great scenes of celebration and frustration among the many fans who travelled to France in order to sample this summer's highly anticipated international footballing showcase.
Although each of Spain, Germany, Italy and France were seemingly held in high regard during the opening stages of the tournament, it was Portugal who ultimately stole a march on the rest of their competitors whilst ending the competition on victorious terms.
Yet whilst several big name stars served to turn on the goods once again this summer in rather predictable style, here are four surprise performers who nonetheless made their mark on Euro 2016 in largely unforeseen circumstances…
Let’s face it, no one quite expected Hungary to make it onto those all-important knock-out stages this summer, especially with their key attacking talisman arguably going on to represent one of the most impressive players of the entire tournament.
Dzsudzsak’s domestic career path upon the European stage ultimately failed to hit the lofty heights many were nonetheless expecting of the quick-footed Hungarian during his early days at PSV. After providing a constantly influential outlet inside the final third for Hungary at Euro 2016 however, as well as scoring a couple of significant goals before seeing his side sadly knocked-out to Belgium in the quarter-finals – this is one player who certainly deserves his fair share of praise this summer.
Despite initially arriving at Euro 2016 as a largely unassuming free agent who had just recently been released from Championship outfit Reading, Hal Robson-Kanu eventually played a defining role for his nation as Wales made history upon the international scene in France this summer.
The hard-working centre-forward stood up to be counted right when it really mattered most, his dedication to the cause was admirable to say the very least, and Hal Robson-Kanu even found himself in shock goal of the tournament contention after his fine finish against the Belgians was lauded for all to behold.
Everything Kolbeinn Sigthorsson clearly lacks in dazzling technicality, he certainly more than makes up for through sheer determination and grit almost every time he steps out on the field for Iceland. The former Ajax forward cropped up inside the final third frequently enough during Euro 2016, whilst serving to embody the hard-working spirit of the Iceland team as a whole.
Sigthorsson provided a thorn in the defence of nearly every competing side to come Iceland’s way this summer, for although the lofty centre-forward obviously remains somewhat limited within the grand scheme of things, his role at Euro 2016 simply can’t be understated any time soon.
Although Robbie Brady currently faces the prospect of spending the 2016/17 campaign locked away in the Championship with Norwich City next season, fans of the Republic of Ireland will be more than grateful towards the tireless wing-back after a series of fine displays at Euro 2016.
The former Hull City favourite proved resolute enough at the spot-kicked when called upon for Ireland, his effort up and down the wing was remarkable even at the worst of times – and on the back of such a strong output in France this summer – Brady could easily find himself back among the Premier League once the summer transfer window finally comes to a close.
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