And now it's over. Spain hoisted the Henry Delauny trophy, the Spanish got to celebrating, the fans enjoyed a month of wonderful Swiss and Austrian hospitality.
I've managed to put on display for all the world my ignorance of the intricacies of world football, I've managed to waste nearly a month's work of productivity at work watching these games, and I've had loads of fun the whole time.
My thanks to everybody who's taken the time to read my articles, and left feedback ( constructive or venomous) for me. It's really what makes writing these things enjoyable, knowing that folks are reading them.
Now that I'm done being cliche and sappy, I thought that I'd close out my tournament coverage by handing out a few awards. So let's hop to it.
The Barry Melrose Award for Most Interesting Hair of the Tournament
This one goes to Joachim Loew, manger of runner-up Germany. Have a look at this 'do. He looks like a cross between a rejected Beatle and Jimmy Johnson before he gets his hair gel in. He might be #2 in the tournament, but he'll always be #1 in the barbershop.
The Carlos Beltran Award for Obscure Player Who Raises His Game During a Contract Year Award
Semih Senturk, edging out teammate Ayhan Akman and Russian Andrei Arshavin. Akman's heroics helped propel Turkey through to the group stages, and Arshavin shouldered the load to get Russia to the semifinals.
But Senturk's incomprehensible, last-gasp strike, against a Croatia side who thought they'd already won, and late equalizer against Germany in the semifinals lets him take home the hardware.
Sure, Turkey still lost in that semifinal game due to some shoddy defending and a surprisingly high-class finish from fullback Philip Lahm, but for two glorious minutes the entire footballing world (save Germany) was ecstatic at another glorious comeback by the Turks.
Look for the big boys of European football to start tossing the euros his directions in an attempt to lure him away from Turkish domestic champions Fenerbache.
The 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers Award For Abysmal Defense of a Title
As the only defending champions of the tournament, the Greeks were always a shoe-in for this award, but they way they did it was horrendous.
Attempting to play their brand of boring, uneventful, excitement-sucking football that served them so well in 2004, the Hellas rolled over against the Swedes, watched as Antonis Nikopolidis gifted the Russians three points an unexplainable gaffe in the goal, and then got plastered by the Spanish in a game that didn't matter because they were already eliminated.
Not since Ben Rothelisberger got knocked off his motorcycle has a reigning champ had such an inauspicious next appearance.
The Let's-All-Carry-John-Madden-On-Our-Shoulders Award for Really Bad Ideas Concerning a Winning Coach
The Spanish team gets to take home this prestigious bit of hardware along with their championship after idea to throw their manger, 69 year old Luis Aragones, into the air in celebration.
Really, boys? Can anybody think of a bigger downer to celebrating a major piece of silverware than having the coach sent to the hospital for hip replacement surgery?
Again, it's been fun. Until the 2010 World Cup rolls around, I bid you all adios.