From Andrea Pirlo's cheeky penalty to Mario Balotelli's coming of age, here are half a dozen things we will not forget
Football fans have been fairly adept at generating their own anticipatory atmospheres for the best part of 150 years now, so of course Uefa thinks it knows better, imposing this numeric atrocity on events. They could scarcely be more condescending if they wheeled out a giant Fisher Price activity centre and slowly explained the function of each squeaky button. One PA goon misjudged his countdown entirely, but carried on yakking his neck long into the match regardless. Hopefully this ersatz Space Shuttle homage will be the final straw, encouraging fans to rise up against all manner of obtrusive public-address disgraces once and for all, with special brickbats aimed at those playing music after goals, and hollering mindless platitudes during trophy presentations. Three, two, one … time for revolution, comrades!
Giovanni Trapattoni's side were a thundering non-event, so it was down to FAI suit John Delaney to leave an Irish impression on the tournament. He did that all right with a tired and emotional performance on the streets of Sopot at carouse o'clock, downing shots with fans who eventually made off with his shoes and socks. "A couple of hundred fans raised me up in the air and carried me head-high home," he later groaned, while adroitly balancing a bag of ice on his forehead. "Now if that's a crime, I'm not guilty." You've got a fair idea what Roy Keane makes of all this, haven't you.
Keepers: if you're going to showcase the dance of the giddy goat during a penalty shootout, make sure you've worked on the act first. When Jerzy Dudek jigged about during the 2005 Champions League final, his gentle, understated contortions put the fear of God into Andrea Pirlo.
You could see the hope draining from his eyes. He crumbled. But here, Joe Hart played it too big, and Pirlo's peepers betrayed only pity. The subsequent Panenka was the greatest momentum shifter in the history of All Sport. Hart was left rolling impotently on the turf like an upended tortoise. England never recovered their poise, knocked out by the most delicate of killer blows.
England's press conferences got such a reputation for relaxed, refined and downright urbane bonhomie, you could be forgiven for assuming Roy Hodgson and Steven Gerrard regularly took to the stage and traded a cavalcade of epigrams in the style of Algernon and Jack from The Importance of Being Earnest. It wasn't quite like that. Indeed Mr Roy could be irritable and spiky; at one point he fell into a monosyllabic funk when a journalist likened his defensive side to Italy, historic masters of catenaccio, in retrospect an overly flattering comparison. At least Mr Roy kept it civil through gritted teeth, unlike the Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin, who offered one fearless interrogator outside on to the pavement for a "man conversation". Still, give Roy time, a couple of draws in World Cup qualifying should do it.
Were Spain boring? Were the people who called Spain boring boring? It's a debate which sucked everyone into a supermassive black hole of hot air and hyperbole, spinning us round and round like a 648-pass ball-recycling movement conducted by Xavi and Andrés Iniesta. The brouhaha consumed Euro 2012, rumbling on all month, with Spain's defenders and detractors getting equally flustered. But this is the Guardian, so let's say everyone had a point: tiki-taka's a tactic of totalitarian genius, albeit one that, a superb performance in the final being the exception that proved the rule, won't quite elevate Spain alongside Brazil 82 and Hungary 53 in the aesthete's canon. But hey, count the trophies..
Defensive lockdown is in vogue, yet there were some good old‑fashioned belters nevertheless: Zlatan Ibrahimovic's scissor flick against France, Marco Reus's larrup versus Greece, and Andy Carroll's paean to creative ultraviolence against Sweden. (That latter match was notable as the first time for years when all England's goalscorers smiled broadly and sweetly while celebrating, rather than screaming in anger at the crowd, a sense of innocent excitement rather than irritating entitlement. It's the most carefree England have been since the 1960s, when the team used to celebrate goals by jumping for joy and performing roly-polys. But we digress.) The biggest impression was made by Mario Balotelli, though, whose back-to-basics thrash against Germany, a proper jaw-dropping netripper, won a superb semi-final, and signalled his coming of age on the world stage. Now all it takes is for the cartoonists and headline writers back in Italy to grow up as well, and everyone's happy.