This is it.
After two years of preparing, after Deschamps walked out, after a new crazy head coach took over, the moment France was waiting for have finally arrived: the last game of the Euro 2016 tournament. Play time was over. Tonight, it was do or die. Nerves had to take a back burner. Passion, spirit, and heart will take first place. Determination and strength will prevail. This was not a battle for the weak hearted.
Coach had yet to smile wholeheartedly, but he cracked jokes occasionally, took up for his boys when everyone else was dragging them down, and although he shouted at them during training or matches, he had wormed his way into their hearts unintentionally. He was going to be missed.
Joint coach was the total opposite. Ray was open, honest, funny, and a lover. The boys had immediately gravitated towards him from day one and by the second day, everyone had his personal cell number.
Tonight, the boys were not only going into battle for France, but for their managers. They wanted to write their own story in the history book and create everlasting memories.
Griezmann rolled up his socks and took one last sip of mate. Giroud pulled his jersey on. Pogba double-checked his shin pads. Koscielny quietly drummed his fingers on his thigh. Kanté picked imaginary fluff off his jersey sleeve. Evra quietly meditated. Lloris sat calmly observing his team with a watery smile. There were no finer men he’d rather go into battle with for the last time this summer.
“Gentlemen,” Marcus greeted the team probably for the last time as he walked in with the twin. “Are we ready to go out there and give it the best shot?”
“And he still doesn’t smile!” Giroud teased.
“Oh, he’ll smile tonight,” Ray assured him.
“It’s been a blast working with you guys in the last few months. We’ve been through many things together, but tonight, tonight is where it begins, not end. Tonight, we’re going to go out there, fearless, ready to fight for what are rightfully ours and France’s.” Marcus looked at every individual as he gave the pre-game speech for probably the last time. “Tonight, we’re going to give the French people something to treasure in years to come. We’re going to make them smile. We’re going to prove everyone wrong. Our fans are our driving force and we’re going to do this for them.
“We owe it to them. So let’s do this, and make Euro 2016 ours to remember. Who are we?
“And whose house is this?”
Portugal v France
Date: 10 July 2016
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
In the 86th minute of the final Euro showdown, the score was 2-2. Time was ticking by, but Marcus was calmer than the entire Stade de France. He stood by the sideline looking on at the game as fans stared nervously at him expecting to find the answer hidden somewhere in his smart, dark YSL suit. Ray had his fingers crossed tightly, willing that the boys quickly find a goal to avoid extra-time. Tired legs could lose an important game especially when all the substitutions were already made.
The entire Stade de France was quiet. Everyone was afraid to breathe. Portugal was awarded a free kick and Marcus clenches his fist, his jaw tightening. If Portugal manages to score and win the … Hugo Lloris caught the header and yelled at his mates as they launched a counter-attack.
The fans looked at the clock.
Martial raced into the opposition’s half dancing with the ball. He quickly laid it off to Griezmann, who twisted and turned, eventually passing to Matuidi, who launched it at goal, but Rui Patricio made the save giving Portugal a lifeline. Marcus gritted his teeth, Ray slapped his thigh and Lloris grunted in disappointment. They now had an additional four minutes to win the game otherwise, Coach will have a reprimanding tirade if they were to play extra-time. Portugal wasn’t letting up so easy, though. They played down the left and made an attempt at the French goal, which Lloris managed to tip over for a corner. The Portuguese corner came to nothing, and Payet led the French attack this time. Down the right-hand side he ran, laying the ball off to Martial, who quickly manages to find Giroud. The forward played a neat one-two with Griezmann, before finding the back of a stunned Patricio’s net.
The Stade de France erupted. Ray and the substitutes screamed in joy and hugged each other. Everyone was reacting to Giroud’s sure winner except Marcus, who was waiting for the final whistle to sound. Two minutes later, the Stade de France was alive and buzzing with joy, happiness, and tears. Marcus smiled as he finally soaked in the beautiful atmosphere. They have done it. They have won Euro 2016 and it was going to be the most memorable tournament ever for the delighted French people. Not because of the struggles they had to overcome, but because of the smile on Coach’s face. It was the first time that France have seen him smile and it lit up the entire stadium. Who needed stadium lights when his smile was the biggest prize of the bittersweet victory?
The team mobbed the coach and hoisted him in the air. They yelled in happiness as he threatened to have their hides if they dropped him. A few seconds later, they hoisted a surprised Ray in the air also. France was going to have a memorable summer all thanks to their wonderful team.
^ I had written this particular victory ending with Germany in mind before the tournament. It was easy to switch Germany with Portugal for this chapter.
^ Once again, congrats Portugal, and Les Bleus, merci mille fois! This wasn’t your chapter to write this tournament, but it will come.
REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.