Euro 2020 was a big platform for a number of young stars to impress and some of them did exactly the same! We have seen so many youngsters break out from international stages and become overnight sensations. Truly speaking, it is a joy to watch a young and unknown name become the breakout star of a tournament. Here is a list of 5 such youngsters who we think have been in the limelight of the European Championship 2020.
The name that echoed throughout the tournament was Pedri. He put up performances that made us recall Spain’s golden era. He might as well be in contention to be the player of the tournament.
Barcelona has been nothing but full of praises for the youngster over the last season. But it was on the international stage, that Pedri showcased his command over the ball. He has started every game for Luis Enrique’s side and his impact has been enormous.
He announced himself as Spain’s creative driving force and managed to sideline Thiago Alcantara for the whole tournament. His performance against Italy was breathtaking. He alone took on the much experienced Italian midfield trio of Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella and with some prowess.
Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark)
When we saw the horrifying collapse of Christian Eriksen in Denmark’s opening game, all we thought was one thing. Would anyone be able to fill in for him? Seems like Mikkel Damsgaard took it upon himself to hold on to the mantle of the Danes. He emerged as their key creative force in the coming games against Belgium and Russia in the group stage.
He again put up an impressive show against Wales in the last-16 and against the Czech Republic in their quarter-final win. The highlight of his tournament was yet to come. The Danish scored through a dipping free-kick against England in the semi-final. Although the Danish side lost the match eventually, he registered the first free-kick goal of the season in some fashion. He still has 3 years left in his Sampdoria contract and it is no surprise that he is attracting the attention of bigger clubs.
Jeremy Doku (Belgium)
19-year-old Jeremy Doku was Belgium’s biggest discovery in a rather forgettable season. The Rennes midfielder is highly regarded in Belgium already. The Euro 2020 gave him the much-required pedestal to show the rest of Europe just how talented he is. He was limited to the bench looking at the depth in the Belgian squad. His first start was in Belgium’s 2-0 win over Finland in the final group game.
Doku’s first big game was the quarter-final against Italy. A replacement for an injured Eden Hazard, he stood up to the manager’s faith in him. He won his side a penalty which Romelu Lukaku capitalised on. Doku kept up the spark, and creativity throughout the games weaving together some big chances. Belgium’s future seems to be in safe hands.
Bukayo Saka (England)
Bukayo Saka has been sensational for Arsenal over the last few seasons. But this summer he took it up a notch. The 19-year-old took his Arsenal form to international duty, thus earning Gareth Southgate’s trust.
His pace and dribbling ability have proven to be one of England’s biggest assets. He put up a fine string of performances against the Czech Republic in the final group game and the last-16 tie with Germany. He even forced Simon Kjaer into an own goal with his firing effort, much thanks to the pressure from Raheem Sterling. With his abilities, we’ll most likely see him start in the finals.
Billy Gilmour (Scotland)
The 20-year-old is highly regarded in Chelsea. He has been mostly reserved to the bench at his club but when his country called upon his services, boy oh boy! He only played once, but the sheer quality of the performance could fade a lot of breakthrough stars this season.
His only game was against the ‘Auld Enemy’, England. Gilmour seemed least affected by the magnitude and pressure of the fixture. His midfield maestro gave opponents no time to hold on possession and get settled. His impact only grew every passing minute of the game and he deservedly was chosen the man of the match. Unfortunately, though, he missed the final group game after testing positive for COVID-19.