Renato Sanches wasn’t expected to have a major impact at Euro 2016. He was the youngest player ever to play in a major tournament for Portugal, and the Portuguese weren’t expected to make a lot of noise in France.
Now, Sanches and Portugal are the champions of Europe.
Portugal has several flashy names at their disposal starting with one of the greatest to ever play the game in Cristiano Ronaldo. They also boast Nani and Ricardo Quaresma. Nobody expected a fresh faced 18 year old kid to steal the show.
Sanches started the tournament as a reserve and finished starting in the Final. He helped transform this Portugal team from a punchless, on-the-way-out wannabe to champions.
In the Round of 16 against Croatia, with the nation’s stars struggling to generate anything resembling offense, it was Sanches who took the ball, leading a devastating counterattack that ended in the winning goal. Then, in the quarterfinal against Poland, Sanches scored a great goal to quickly answer Robert Lewandowksi’s first goal of the tournament. When the match went to penalties, Sanches stepped up and sank his spot kick.
When he stepped on the field at the start of the Final against France, Sanches became the youngest player to ever start a European Final. Then, after the final whistle, Sanches became the youngest player to ever win a European Championship.
Sanches will now look to make his mark with Bayern Munich during the 2016-17 season.