GK Spotlight on Euro 2016
Euro 2020 was scheduled to begin in less than a fortnight in what was set to be the biggest and most unique international tournament in history.
It is likely to be played in full next year, but in the absence of this year’s showpiece we take a look at the last instalment of the European Championships in 2016 in France, a competition where England crashed out in humiliating circumstances and overall did not really deliver the entertainment we are accustomed to from World Cups and Euros in recent years.
Nevertheless, in the absence of Euro 2020 we cast our minds back to Euro 2016 for some of the memorable goalkeepers and moments of the tournament as we wait in angst for the announcement of the new dates.
Rui Patricio - Portugal
It would be amiss to not include Team of the Tournament member, Rui Patricio in this list and number one of tournament winners Portugal.
The current Wolves ‘keeper was with Sporting Lisbon back in 2016 and made earned his 50th cap in France, but it didn’t start all too well with Portugal who didn’t win a single group game, including 3-3 draw with Hungary, qualifying only under a new format which saw four of 3rd place teams progress.
In the Round of 16 and Quarter Final Portugal again failed to win in 90 minutes. In the former, Patricio was on form as his side edged past Croatia 1-0 and was the hero in a penalty shootout with Poland saving Jakub Błaszczykowski's spot-kick to send Portugal to the semi-final.
The Wolves man again kept a clean sheet in a semi-final clash with Wales before a brilliant display in the final with France, with the hosts claiming the better opportunities in the match. Eder scored Portugal’s historic winner to nab the European Championship away from a shell-shocked Stade-de-France.
Gabor Kiraly - Hungary
International tournaments were graced with the iconic grey bottoms of Gabor Kiraly only once in Euro 2016, becoming the oldest player to ever appear in the European Championship at 40 years old.
Despite the summer heat in France, Kiraly was insistent in donning the type of baggy bottoms you would see fit for a cosy night in rather than on Europe’s elite stage, the very same style we saw in the Premier League from his time with Palace, West Ham and Aston Villa.
Kiraly’s age and loungewear did nothing to hinder his performance in the opening stages as Hungary surpassed expectations by topping their group, which included eventual winners Portugal.
Hungary were thrashed 4-0 by Belgium in the Round of 16, through no real fault of Kiraly and in truth surpassed their own expectations in the first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.
Kiraly hung up his grey bottoms in 2019, having retired from international football after Euro 2016 in France.
Joe Hart - England
The overriding memory of Euro 2016 for England supporters is the dreadful performance against Iceland in Nice, Harry Kane on corners and Joe Hart’s sub-par display.
Hart’s error in the group game with Wales where allowed Gareth Bale’s free kick to squirm under him, overshadowed by Daniel Sturridge’s last-gasp winner.
Where calm heads were needed, the then City goalkeeper seemed erratic and excitable in the tunnel ahead of the Round of 16 fixture with Iceland which translated to his performance on the pitch.
Hart made another mistake to let in a winning goal from Kolbeinn Sigþórsson in Nice, in one of the worst nights in the international side’s history, which signalled the end of Roy Hodgson’s tenure as England manager.
Hart did play again for England under Allardyce and initially under Gareth Southgate, but the emergence of Jordan Pickford, Tom Heaton and Nick Pope saw that the Iceland match would be his last action at a major tournament for England.