I'm not even going to try to explain how bad the Euro experience was for some of us here at Through It All Together. If you're an English fan reading this, you know what I'm talking about. But some of us really enjoyed the show, watching historic runs from our teams, getting waaay too into a certain Northern Ireland song, and admiring the talent on the pitch, even if it didn't wear the colors of our home nations.
So this week, I asked our staff who stood out to them the most at Euro 2016: one player, not necessarily the "best player of the tournament," but the one that has been the most "impressive" to them, however they want to take it. Two of our answers came from one team, one is obvious, and another is maybe less obvious, but still a solid selection (he might be pictured above, so there goes that surprise). You'll have to read on to find out who the other three are.
While our new staff members are finding their groove, some of our vets are on holiday, so sitting around the roundtable this week: Sean Ryan from Meath, Jack Dudley from Cambridge, Anthony Linley from Yorkshire, and Johnny Wakefield from Charlotte, North Carolina in the States.
All of us are "all Leeds," and all of us will try to answer the question we present every Wednesday to the best of our ability. It's not a quiz show, but it should give you insight into us as fans and writers alike.
And at the end, in the comments, don't forget to let us know how you'd answer the question of the week.
The Weekly Wednesday Roundtable... begins now.
Which single player has impressed you the most at Euro 2016?
Sean Ryan: Euro 2016 has been a tournament full of ups and downs. The damn French knocked out Ireland, but the next day England were knocked out by Iceland so some of my pain passed. That was fun. Like, really fun.
There have been some fantastic performances by the plethora of fantastic players on show. Payet, Modric, Iniesta, the entire Italian team... but the best player of the tournament has been one of my fellow countrymen.
Jeff Hendrick, he of Derby County and Ireland, was brilliant in the four games he played and in the Belgian game was one of the few Irish players who showed a bit of heart and bottle.
The Italian game was when Hendrick showed what he was made of. Yes, they were a weakened side, but it was still a strong one and Hendrick bossed the middle of the park. He was inches away from scoring one of the goals of the tournament and for 60 minutes battered the French midfield around the place. Kante, one of the best players in the Premier League was pulled off at half time.
The power of the Irish.
Anthony Linley: There have been many stand out players at the Euros, especially from the more fancied teams laden with stars. Dimitri Payet should get a few shouts here no doubt. But the player that has impressed me most in the games I have seen is from a team that weren’t backed to even make it from their Group of Death.
The Republic of Ireland's Robbie Brady ended his club season with relegation to the Championship but he didn’t let that affect his Euros performance. His efforts have been noticed by English Champions Leicester City who now want to pluck him from his relegated club side Norwich.
Featuring in every Ireland match, Brady earned man of the match against Italy in an encounter the Irish weren’t supposed to win. His fantastic late header brought the Irish the unexpected victory and epitomised how he worked tirelessly to the end, never giving up. He celebrated the goal running to passionately embrace his family who were watching pitch side. Tears were shed in a display of emotion that was sadly lacking in my team's final display Monday night.
Having dragged Ireland through to the knock out stages and the game against hosts France barely started, his next task was to take a spot kick. In possibly the most important game he had ever played he showed nerves of steel calmly slotting home the penalty in what was to be a world record time.
Robbie showed class on the pitch, never gave up running, scored 2 of his country’s three goals, earned a man of match and broke a world record. I’d love a player like that at Elland Road, and not as a part of a visiting Norwich team.
Jack Dudley: Well I'm glad the operative word in this week's edition of our Roundtable is 'most' and not 'least,' as I'd still be writing this at Christmas. The less said for now on that shambolic performance by the so-called 'Three Lions' the better, until our wounds heal...
Alas, I digress! I could think of a host of players in France this summer that have stolen the limelight for me: Michael McGovern for his part in the Northern Ireland heroics, Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick of the Republic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic putting in their customary stoic performances for the Croatians. But in the spirit of the game, I'm going for a player that isn't your usual attacking superstar pick here.
He's an absolute rock in the heart of their defence, a reliable leader from the back, has the ability to score goals and be a major threat in the air in both attack and defence - you guessed it, my pick goes to Italy's Giorgio Chiellini.
The Italians have only conceded one goal this tournament, that being Robbie Brady's header giving the Irish a thoroughly deserved win over the Azzurri. Chiellini however, was rested for that game as Italy had already won the group.
I'm not usually a fan of the Italian style of football, and whenever I watch them they don't actually look that impressive. What gives Chiellini my vote though is not only their defensive record, but the complete calm that he and veteran goalkeeper behind him Gigi Buffon bring to the defence. They believe in their ability and they all trust one another.
This struck me most in the games against Belgium and Spain, when despite only being 1-0 up at the time against both and holding a seemingly slender lead, they never looked like they would be breached. It's the complete opposite to the way Cahill and company make us English feel.
He spearheads a defence that has kept world class talent in Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet and ineffective, and if they can keep that up against what I believe to be the greatest threat going forward in this tournament in Germany, then I would struggle to see anyone getting past them.
Johnny Wakefield: Gareth. Bale.
That's it for this week's roundtable. Thanks to all the staff members who spoke up this week. So which player has impressed you the most? Was one of us right on? Or do you have a better idea? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading this week, enjoy your summer, and see you again next week. #MOT