Last Sunday, I won. I am French and a football fan. And I won. Yes, this goal at the 109th minute cut us all off at the knees, me first. I was prostrated in front of my TV. Silent. Shocked. Defeated. Portugal, who barely won a game of the championship in the 90 regulation minutes, was going to lift the trophy. Not France. Portugal. Bummer. I was so disappointed. But… I won.
I won against myself. I didn’t storm off the room or yell or cry or go directly to bed without a word in icy anger. Oh, I could have. Simply because I’ve done it in the past. You know, there are two teams in my heart: AS Monaco and France. Since I started to support them, each went twice in a final. And each have lost both time. True, it was a while ago. In 2004 for the Champion’s League final (which is the highest you can get in Europe) and in 2010 for the French Cup with Monaco and in 2006 for the World Cup final (remember Zidane’s head butt? Yeah? Well, that’s the game…) and now, 2016 for the European Championship with France. My teams, since they are mine, never won anything that matters. So you can imagine how terrible this 10th of July was for me. I was so hopeful. We were so close. The disillusionment was great. But I didn’t sink. I felt a bizarre calm inside. A sort of peace, which, despite the tragedy, enabled me to accept it. And to move on. It even went a little further. I was (a tiny bit) happy for Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo (yeap… It doesn’t happen a lot. I’m a Messi fan.). They never won an international title. Now they did. I know how happy I would have been to see France on top of Europe, so I am happy for them. Moreover, two of their players are wearing Monaco’s jersey all year long so that’s good too.
If anything, this European Championship made me grateful. Some critics, fans and journalists say that it was a terrible tournament mainly because of the level of play displayed by the different teams with too few goals and too much defense but to me, there was something more important than that:
It was a month of emotions.
Iceland, a true feat.
First, a big surprise. Who doesn’t like surprises? England for sure. At least regarding the way they got knocked out by Iceland. Because, yes, Iceland in the last sixteen for their first tournament was already a surprise in itself, but Iceland in quarter-final after beating England, the country who invented football, goes way beyond that. Let put things into perspective, shall we? Iceland is an island, that have a population of only 329 000 inhabitants. It was the least populated country of the competition. Only 100 of their players are professional. There are roughly 2000 in France and 4000 in England. Given that a team is made up of 23 players, it doesn’t give a lot of choices. Now that you know how small Iceland should be in comparison, I think we can call their performance a true feat. Especially because before the England game, they have ended up second of their group, in front of Portugal, the winner-to-be. they actually won more games , meaning 2, in the 90 first minutes than the European Champion. I loved them. They were so refreshing. Thanks Vikings!
Fiers d’être Bleus!
And secondly: yes, France’s players gave me emotions all tournament long. At first with their victories in the last minutes against Romania and Albania. Then in their come back in the last sixteen against Ireland, when, after conceding a goal only 2 minutes into the game, Griezmann scored twice in 3 minutes. They gave me emotions during their goal feast in quarter-final against valiant Iceland. They continued against Germany in semi-final, when France won for the first time to their neighbor since 1958 after an accomplished game. And finally, even though they lost, they gave me emotions during the final. My heart have barely taken the emotional rollercoaster of the last minute when the post refused to let Gignac’s shoot in the net. So yes, I’m grateful. I have seen lots of goals, great games and a final. I have seen a team, a real team, wearing my nation’s jersey, which is not something to take for granted regarding the last few years. And before all I got my love back for my “Bleus”, for Kanté, Pogba, Payet, Giroud, Griezmann & Cie. They got me to support them fully and there is not much more I could have hoped for.
See you soon and “Allez la France!“,