It's a beautiful sport that has beautiful lessons.
Earlier today, Portugal took Spain’s throne as the new champions of Europe. After a victory over France by one goal, their one-month journey in the Euro 2016 has come to a satisfying conclusion.
This tournament has taught me many lessons beyond the beautiful sport itself. So here are five life lessons I learnt while watching the Euro 2016.
1. Your CCA may get you far in life
While many national players at the tournament are full-time athletes, Iceland was represented by a team filled mostly with part-time football players.
Most of the Icelandic players have day jobs. This includes their manager, who is a dentist, and the team’s goalkeeper, who is a film director. Even during the Euro 2016, he could be found editing videos in his hotel room.
So the next time your friends say your hobby will get you nowhere in life, remind them how far Iceland’s hobby took them.
2. Complacency will lead to downfall
Spain, the two-time defending Euro champions, got knocked out in the round of 16 in the hands (or feet) of the Italians.
The complacency of the former Spanish champions cost them their third consecutive championship title. Having the exact same starting eleven in their line-up for all four matches they played was a crucial mistake that led to their loss against their long-time Italian rivals.
Thinking that Italy would play purely on the defensive side, Spain’s line-up and formation did not expect the Italian team’s explosive counter attacks.
After much success, it’s easy to think that you are unstoppable. But pride can get you sent back to the bottom at any given moment.
3. It’s not over until it’s over
Almost 30 per cent of the goals at Euro 2016 were scored after the 75th minute, including the winning goal in the finals that came in the 109th.
We have all faced our own struggles at the 11th hour. Be it exam preparation, school projects, internship and so on, many of us tend to regress or merely bite through these final phases.
While it’s understandable to want to let go when fatigue kicks in, that push before final whistle determines if you make it or break it.
Trust me, you will be glad you pushed through.
4. You don’t need to win to be heroes
Iceland was underestimated from the beginning for being the smallest country to ever enter the Euro tournament. However, they later proved themselves as a force to be reckoned with after eliminating fan favourites, England, in the round of 16.
Though they lost to France in the quarter-finals, they received a heroes’ welcome when the team returned home after putting their country in the football map. Just around four years ago, they ranked 133. Now they are hovering around the top 30s.
They didn’t win the Euro 2016, but they sure won the hearts of millions.
While there is always going to be someone better than you, Iceland’s determination taught me that being better than someone else is not as satisfying as being better than yourself when you first started.
5. Rejection is not the end
Everyone goes through rejection. Be it with a company or a school you applied to, or even with someone you were attracted to, we have all gotten turned down at least once and felt demoralised after.
One French player in particular got rejected from several youth football academies as a kid because of his skinny frame and short height.
But this year, Antoine Griezmann, 25, will be receiving the coveted Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals in the tournament. He even out-scored Cristiano Ronaldo!
From an academy reject to his country’s hero, it just goes to show that your hunger and hard work can overcome anybody’s rejection of you.
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