Manchester United

Luke Shaw's Euro 2020 displays are finally seeing him get the credit he deserves

Ross Jackson
Luke Shaw put England 1-0 up on Sunday
Luke Shaw put England 1-0 up on Sunday / GES-Sportfoto/Getty Images
facebooktwitterreddit

For precisely 64 minutes and 19 seconds, Luke Shaw's name was pencilled into English footballing history as the winning goalscorer in his country's first ever European Championship final.

Few will need reminding that said statement has since been revised a little, and he's now joined Kieran Trippier as the protagonist in irritating 'life peaked at this moment' tweets from 15-year-olds.

While the Manchester United left back's fairytale moment was soured by those dastardly Italians on Sunday night, his performance in the final - and the five outings that went before it in this summer's competition - proved he's back to his best and should be recognised as one of Europe's top left backs.

Heading into Euro 2020, a lot of the discourse surrounding Gareth Southgate's squad selection focused on who would be given the nod at right back, with England boasting four quality options prior to Trent Alexander-Arnold's unfortunate injury picked up against Austria.

However, the opposite flank posed the England boss a similar selection dilemma, with both Shaw and Ben Chilwell enjoying solid campaigns at club level.

Recently-crowned La Liga champion Trippier's inclusion at left back for England's opener against Croatia suggested Shaw had even more reason to be concerned about how much game time he'd be afforded in England's campaign, but he was handed his big opportunity on matchday two against Scotland.

In all honesty the United man didn't cover himself in glory against Steve Clarke's side, with rampaging wing back Stephen O'Donnell getting the better of him and ultimately spurning the visitors' best chance of the game.

Southgate stuck by Shaw for England's next outing against the Czech Republic, clearly aware of the attacking threat he could offer down the Three Lions' left-hand side, and from that afternoon at Wembley onwards England's left back dilemma was no longer a debate.

Shaw's tireless display caused Jaroslav Silhavy's side no end of problems as he continued to press and probe, pushing Vladimir Coufal back and denying the West Ham man the chance to showcase his own attacking prowess.

Luke Shaw was arguably England's biggest threat throughout Euro 2020
Luke Shaw was arguably England's biggest threat throughout Euro 2020 / Paul Ellis - Pool/Getty Images

England's quarter-final clash against Ukraine in Rome saw Shaw produce his most impressive display of Euro 2020, with the United man notching two assists and continuing his impressive link-up play with Sterling down the England left.

Sterling received a lot of plaudits throughout the tournament - earning a spot in UEFA's Team of the Tournament - though Shaw's movement and drive was key to drawing defenders away and affording him the space to weave his magic.

While Shaw's attacking play has rightly been singled out as a crucial facet in England's impressive campaign, his defensive play has subsequently skirted under the radar.

The Three Lions' route to the final of Euro 2020 was built on the solid foundations of a well-drilled backline, something Shaw was central to maintaining.

Luke Shaw celebrates his early goal against Italy
Luke Shaw celebrates his early goal against Italy / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Aside from his shaky maiden outing of the tournament against Scotland, the United man looked composed and reliable on the left-hand side of defence and never once looked like neglecting his defensive duties despite his desire to offer an attacking outlet when his side were in possession.

Lacking so-called 'game management' is one of the biggest criticisms to be thrown at Southgate's England side in recent years - a criticism rightly levelled at them after they'd thrown away a lead in the 2018 semi-final against Croatia - though their semi-final clash against Denmark at Euro 2020 showcased how much they'd grown as a team and Shaw was again crucial to their approach.

Harry Kane's extra-time winner sparked a complete transformation in England's style of play, with Shaw and his teammates no longer looking to stretch the play and bomb forward, instead opting to maintain possession and play their way towards the final whistle.

'Redemption' is a word that's been bandied about quite a lot in the last few weeks, and while Shaw's recent displays for Manchester United have seen him go up in the estimations of Red Devils fans, he still had some way to go to convince England supporters of his quality.

After six superb displays at Euro 2020, it's fair to say he's now undoubtedly the Three Lions' first choice left back and is finally getting the credit he deserves.

facebooktwitterreddit