HOLLYWOOD—It was just a few weeks ago that I mentioned that the UEFA Euro 2016 was full of passion and emotion. Millions of people were glued to the TV screen to watch the Euro 2016 finals Portugal v. France game that took place on July 10 in Paris, France. Who would have thought that actor Harrison Ford was rooting for Portugal among other celebrities like singer Nelly Furtado.
Portugal stunned France to win the Euro 2016 final, despite being willed on by an entire country and a packed French crowd. It was a wasteful finish that came to haunt France, with even tournament top scorer for France Antoine Griezmann missing chance after chance. Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio made several good saves, including one outstanding leaping save from Griezmann’s looping header in the ninth minute.
It was shortly after that soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo departed the Euro 2016 final on a stretcher, shedding tears after suffering a knee injury, before being replaced in just the 24th minute. French player Dimitri Payet, denies any wrongdoing and insists it wasn’t intentional, when he crashed into Ronaldo. Portuguese fans are not convinced and insist, that it was indeed intentional. The 31-year-old Ronaldo was forced to leave the field, however, stood in the sidelines with Portugal’s coach Fernando Santos. Portuguese players and fans feared their final chances had disappeared down the tunnel on a stretcher.
But in those nervous closing stages of Sunday’s game, perhaps for the first time in a decade, Portugal didn’t need Ronaldo, its brightest star to win. With a goal from nowhere in extra time, from Eder, Portugal’s substitute player, it defeated host nation France 1-0 to win its first major championship. “We lost our main man, the man who could score a goal at any given moment,” Portugal defender Pepe said of Ronaldo, who left the game in the 25th minute. “But we were warriors on the pitch. We said that we’d win it for him.” Just like a Hollywood thriller full of twists and turns it was during overtime that Portugal scored a goal.
France was very bitter, the defeat bordered on unthinkable. Les Bleus had convinced themselves that history was within their grasp at the Stade de France.They didn’t even light up the Portuguese colors on the Eiffel Tower, which is common courtesy for the winners. On the same field where they won the 1998 World Cup, on the home soil where they hadn’t lost any of their previous 18 major-tournament matches, they felt the trophy was theirs for the taking. Karma is a powerful thing, just like Portugal lost on their own turf to Greece in 2004, France just couldn’t pull it off. “I’ve been looking for this for a long time,” Ronaldo said. “Since 2004, I’ve asked God for a second chance at this.”
When it was over, Ronaldo hobbled back onto the field, knee heavily bandaged, to close a season that saw him lift two of the most prestigious trophies in soccer. Cristiano Ronaldo has a first international title for his country to add the Champions League he won with Real Madrid in May. In the Champions League, he was largely invisible until taking the clinching penalty in a shootout. For the Euro 2016, he wasn’t on the field for 95 minutes of play. “He still gave us all his strength and bravery, and we got this important victory, both for him and all of Portugal,” Eder said.
Portuguese people from all over the world from Africa to Bermuda to Lisbon took to the streets to celebrate the first-time victory of winning UEFA Euro 2016. That’s the Portuguese way to celebrate. No matter what, Ronaldo is an icon, a legend, and will be remembered amongst the greatest players of all time. Unlike Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of tax fraud for using offshore companies to avoid paying Spanish taxes on advertising contracts. But under Spanish law, he is unlikely to serve any time. Messi was also fined about $2.3 million, by a court in Barcelona. Messi is expected to appeal the sentence.
Rose’s Scoop: Mariah Carey #1 To Infinity will be at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace from August 24-September 11.