Finalist of Greece as host of EURO 2004, Portugal entered the group stage with three draws among the best teams in third position. They needed more time to beat Croatia and a penalty shootout against Poland before Seleção das Quinas clinched their final place in EURO by beating Wales in the last four games. Coach Fernando Santos has promised that the centerpiece will give “the Portuguese people the greatest joy of their lives.” Champion in 1984 and 2000, and favorite to lift the cup for the third time, France, the host country, had dominated her group before defeating the Republic of Ireland, Iceland and Germany in knockout.
Antoine Griezmann: Pivotal as Atlético Madrid reached the final of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League, the offensive dynamo scored six goals in the Blues’ first six matches in EURO 2016 – including two goals in the half final against Germany.
Dimitri Payet: After a fantastic season in England with West Ham – nine goals and 12 assists – Payet struck three more times en route to the centerpiece of 2016, winning man of the game twice.
Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portuguese skipper had won his third Champions League winner medal before these finals, with Real Madrid. Equalizing twice against Hungary, he said his team was making their way out of the group stage.
With Les Bleus in the ascendancy from the start, defender Pepe recalled that Portugal had lost its “best player and leader”, an injury which forced the replacement of the talisman Ronaldo at 25 minutes. However, the captain continued to orchestrate from the touchline, providing the second half of the submarine with “positive energy and strength”.
Frenchman André-Pierre Gignac was therefore almost the hero of Saint-Denis, hitting the post in overtime, but the final was scoreless after 90 minutes. Fernando Santos then experienced “incredible emotions” when Éder raised his marker to shoot a rifle in a 109th minute winner from outside the box and win the Henri Delaunay Cup for Os Navegadores.
Fernando Santos, coach of Portugal: “We were as simple as doves and as wise as snakes. ”
Pepe, defender of Portugal: “The team has shown humility, resembling the Portuguese people themselves, a very humble and hardworking people who are proud of what they do. ”
André-Pierre Gignac, striker from France: “I told myself in the shower that hitting the post would haunt me until the end of my career and even after. It’s a nightmare. ”
Hugo Lloris, goalkeeper of France: “We must be proud of what we have done. Even though we lost the match, we achieved a lot of positive things. “
Two years later, Portugal failed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, succumbing to Uruguay in the last 16.
More silverware was on the horizon, as they staged and won the 2019 UEFA First League of Nations, the strike of Gonçalo Guedes in the 60th minute beating the Netherlands in the Porto final – the tenth match of unbeaten Portugal.
France bounced back in Russia in 2018 to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy for the second time. Becoming the third man to win the World Cup as a player (1998) and coach, Didier Deschamps said his men “demonstrated mental quality” and “deserved to win”.