Football News : Euro 2020: Pick your all-time Euros XI




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Spain lift the 2012 trophy

Football News : Euro 2020: Pick your all-time Euros XI bringing you classic European Championship games throughout June in our Euros Rewind series – but who would you pick in an all-time Euros XI?

The early tournaments – pre 1980 – only featured four teams so players only featured in two games, but we’ve accommodated all the greats. To help you out we’ve drawn up a shortlist of players who have all either:

  • Made the official team/squad of the tournament
  • Been named player of the tournament
  • Won the Golden Boot; or
  • Won the tournament itself

There are some stellar names as you’d expect, so take a look at each player’s case for inclusion, then choose a formation and pick your side at the bottom of the page. Let us know who you selected at #bbcfootball.

GOALKEEPERS

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) – 17 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Runner-up (2012)

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride? One of the world’s finest stoppers never won a Euros or a Champions League but did at least take the World Cup home.

His 17 finals appearances are the most by a goalkeeper and he made the team of the tournament in 2008 and 2012. The best anthem singer in the game.

Iker Casillas (Spain) – 14 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008, 2012. Best finish: Winner (2008, 2012)

What can you say about Saint Iker’s Euros record? Nine clean sheets in 14 appearances, he went 509 minutes without conceding in 2012.

Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel (Denmark) – 13 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000. Best finish: Winner (1992)

Played in finals in three different decades and was a huge part of the shock win in 1992, saving a penalty from Marco van Basten in the semi-final shootout. You’re still thinking about that Davor Suker chip though aren’t you?

David Seaman (England) – 7 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000. Best finish: Semi-final (1996)

England’s marvellous run in the marvellous summer of 96 may never have got going had it not been for safe hands’ penalty saves against Scotland and Spain. All in that kit as well...

Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands) – 16 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008. Best finish: Semi-final (2000, 2004)

Another goalkeeping legend with a massive haul of nine clean sheets in the finals. Knocked out in the last four on home soil in 2000.

Lev Yashin (USSR) – 4 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1960, 1964. Best finish: Winner (1960)

An absolute titan of the early tournaments, the Black Spider was a goalkeeping icon, winning the final in 1960 when the Soviet Union were outplayed by Yugoslavia. Even Gordon Banks was a fan.

Dino Zoff (Italy) – 7 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1968, 1980. Best finish: Winner (1968)

The only Italian player to win the Euros and the World Cup – Zoff also coached Italy to the 2000 final. Quite the career for this player who made his international debut during the 1968 triumph.

DEFENDERS

Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany) – 4 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1972, 76 Best finish: Winner (1972)

Another to have won the World Cup and the Euros, Der Kaiser dominated whether in defence or midfield for the then West Germany and captained the side to glory in 1972 before losing in the final to the original Panenka four years later.

Andreas Brehme (West Germany/Germany) – 12 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1984, 1988, 1992. Best finish: Runner-up (1992).

The man whose penalty won the 1990 World Cup also had a handy record in the Euros. The left-back scored a rare beast on home soil in 1988 – an indirect free-kick inside the penalty area. An attacking force as well, no defender can match his number of 27 chances created.

He never won the trophy though, being part of the side shocked by Denmark in 1992.

Marcel Desailly

Marcel Desailly (France) – 12 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000, 2004. Best finish: Winner (2000)

An absolutely wonderful player, the former Chelsea man forged an unbeatable partnership with Laurent Blanc in World Cup and Euros wins.

Was France’s record caps holder when he retired after Euro 2004, with 116 appearances.

Ronald Koeman (Netherlands) – 9 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1988, 1992. Best finish: Winner (1988)

Koeman was a key member of the Netherlands’ triumphant 1988 side, scoring from the penalty spot under massive pressure in the semi-final win over hosts West Germany.

Philipp Lahm (Germany) – 14 apps, 2 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008, 2012. Best finish: Runner-up (2008)

A dependable and classy full-back, Lahm had plenty of quality going the other way as well, memorably scoring the winner in the 2008 semi-final against Turkey in the dying seconds.

Paolo Maldini (Italy) – 13 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1988, 1996, 2000 Best finish: Runner-up (2000)

Quite simply one of the finest defenders to grace the field, won seven games at the finals but never picked up the trophy, losing on the golden goal to France in 2000.

Pepe (Portugal) – 15 apps, 2 goals. Tournaments played in: 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Winner (2016)

You may love to hate him but Pepe was named in the team of the tournament in all three competitions he played in, which is some going.

The centre-back was man of the match in the 2016 final as his side beat the favoured hosts France.

Carles Puyol (Spain) – 8 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008. Best finish: Winner (2008)

Lion-hearted, lion-maned defender who gave his all for the cause. Won the trophy once and could have had another but missed Euro 2012 with a knee injury.

Sergio Ramos (Spain) – 15 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Winner (2008, 2012)

What a defender. Ruthless. Started out as a right-back in the 2008 victory and won it again four years later in the centre of the back four. Scored in the 2012 semi-final shootout with a Panenka. Naturally.

Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands) – 9 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1988, 1992. Best finish: winner (1988)

As versatile as he was classy, Rijkaard could play at centre-back and also featured as a wing-back and in central midfield in 1992. Gave away a penalty in the 1988 semi-final but four years later scored a late equaliser in the last four.

Matthias Sammer (Germany) – 10 apps, 2 goals. Tournaments played in: 1992, 1996 Best finish: Winner (1996)

Borussia Dortmund legend who represented East Germany pre-unification. Played in midfield in 1992 and in a back three in 1996, where he was named player of the tournament. Picked his moments to join the attack and scored twice, including the winner in the quarter-final.

Lilian Thuram (France) – 16 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008. Best finish: Winner (2000)

His son may be doing the business as a striker these days but Lilian Thuram was an immense defender in his day. Most famous for scoring twice from right-back in the 1998 World Cup semi-final, he played at four Euros and won it in 2000. His 16 finals appearances was a record at the time.

MIDFIELDERS

Cesc Fabregas (Spain) – 16 apps, 3 goals. Tournaments played in: 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Winner (2008, 2012)

Largely a substitute in the wins in 2008 and 2012 but was used brilliantly throughout and started both finals.

He scored in key penalty shootout wins against Italy and Portugal, and played up front at times in the “false nine” role. His Euros haul of 11 wins at finals is the joint best in history.

Luis Figo (Portugal) – 14 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000, 2004. Best finish: Runner-up (2004)

An original Galactico, his goal against England in 2000 must rank highly on the list of best Euros strikes. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid man created 42 chances in games at the finals – the best by any player. Only Karel Poborsky has more than his five assists. Yep, you read that right…

Paul Gascoigne (England) – 5 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1996. Best finish: Semi-finals (1996)

The fact he played in only one Euros for England doesn’t bear thinking about but perhaps it’s no surprise that the Three Lions were a whisker away from reaching the final in both tournaments he did make it to.

His goal against Scotland is surely enough to warrant inclusion alone but he also scored in both shootouts and was superb against the Netherlands.

If only he’d reached that Alan Shearer cross…

Alain Giresse (France) – 5 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1984. Best finish: Winner (1984)

Another who only graced one tournament, but what a way to do it. Won every game as France won in 1984, Giresse was one quarter of the “Carre Magique” (Magic Square) in midfield.

His goal against Belgium was a delight as well. Just 5ft 4ins. Elegant, classy player.

Ruud Gullit (Netherlands) – 9 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1988, 1992. Best finish: Winner (1988)

Played as a centre-forward in 88 and scored the opening goal of the final before playing in midfield four years later as the holders made it to the last four.

Ahead of his time in many ways, what a player.

Andres Iniesta (Spain) – 16 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Winner (2008, 2012)

How good was Iniesta? Well, in 16 games at the Euros he won seven man-of-the-match awards – a record.

Part of a dominant team which won three consecutive major trophies, could play in a midfield three or wide left. Won 11 games, the joint-best record for any player.

Brian Laudrup (Denmark) – 8 apps, 3 goals. Tournaments played in: 1992, 1996. Best finish: Winner (1992)

Played on the right wing in 1992 as Denmark shocked the world, picking up four assists on the way. Then played as a striker and scored three lovely goals at Hillsborough four years later but the champions didn’t get out of a tough group.

Lothar Matthaus (West Germany/Germany) – 11 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000. Best finish: Winner (1980)

Had an incredible 20-year span at the Euros. Won it as a squad player in 1980, scored in the 88 semi-final as captain as West Germany missed out on home soil and then missed two competitions through injury and then insult (he fell out with coach Berti Vogts and missed the 1996 triumph).

Shockingly returned as sweeper at the age of 39 in 2000 but probably shouldn’t have bothered. Germany were terrible.

Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic) – 12 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000, 2004. Best finish: Runner-up (1996)

Almost unrecognisable now, the then short-haired Nedved excelled on the left of midfield at Euro 96 and was one of the best in the world by the time Euro 2004 rolled around.

Hit the bar against the Netherlands with a shot struck so well the woodwork is probably still moving.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy) – 11 apps, 2 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008, 2012. Best finish: Runner-up (2012)

The pass master. Ran England ragged in two major tournaments, nobody could get the ball off him. Was superb in 2012 and scored a Panenka v England in a shootout.

Michel Platini (France) – 5 apps, 9 goals. Tournaments played in: 1984. Best finish: Winner (1984)

The ultimate tournament performance? The Juventus playmaker was in a world of his own in 1984. Only Cristiano Ronaldo can match his tally of nine Euros goals – and he has played in 16 more games!

Platini scored two hat-tricks in the group stage alone, got the winner in the last minute of extra time in the semi-final and the opener in the final. Decent.

Aaron Ramsey (Wales) – 5 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 2016. Best finish: Semi-finals (2016)

Yes, Ramsey makes our list and not Gareth Bale – the Real Madrid man didn’t fulfil our criteria. Ramsey was just as important in Wales’ legendary run, picking up four assists and a goal in his five games. Had he not been suspended for the semi-final, who knows…?

David Silva (Spain) – 15 apps, 3 goals. Tournaments played in: 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Winner (2008, 2012)

Another of the Spanish legion from their dominant side of the 2000s. Scored in the semi-final in 2008 and the opener in the final four years later – a header, no less. Influential in their success.

Jean Tigana (France) – 5 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 1984. Best finish: Winner (1984)

The future Fulham boss was another member of France’s dream midfield in 1984. Didn’t get on the scoresheet but check out his assist for Giresse against Belgium. Yes please.

Xavi (Spain) – 11 apps, 1 goal. Tournaments played in: 2008, 2012. Best finish: Winner (2008, 2012)

Perhaps encapsulates what that Spain side were all about better than any other team-mate. Tiki-taka runs through his veins. The player of the tournament in 2008 was in the squad for 2004 but didn’t play, but won the next two editions at a stroll.

Theo Zagorakis (Greece) – 5 apps, 0 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004. Best finish: Winner (2004)

You would have done well to predict the player of the tournament for 2004 before a ball was kicked. Function overcame fashion in Portugal as unfancied Greece pulled off another huge shock. Zagorakis – formerly of Leicester – was the general in midfield who oversaw a famous triumph. He’s now a politician.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane (France) – 14 apps, 5 goals. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000, 2004. Best finish: Winner (2000)

The maestro. Platini aside, has any player graced a single tournament more than Zizou did in 2000? His highlights reel from those few weeks in the lowlands is bordering on the obscene.

Already a legend of course after scoring twice in the 1998 World Cup final, he produced some of his very best football as Les Bleus completed the double. His free-kick against Spain and some of his close control was mesmerising. Then was still brilliant four years later to down England with two late goals.

As good as they were, should still have a word with his strikeforce – he has one assist from 38 chances created at the finals!

FORWARDS

Antoine Griezmann (France) – 7 apps, 6 goals. Tournaments played in: 2016. Best finish: Runner-up (2016)

Another Frenchman to have a brilliant tournament on home soil, Griezmann looked like carrying his side to another win until they blew it in the final. The key man throughout Euro 2016.

Thierry Henry (France) – 11 apps, 6 goals. Tournaments played in: 2000, 2004, 2008. Best finish: Winner (2000)

Never truly lit up a Euros as perhaps he could/should have at his peak but still won the thing in 2000. One of the great European forwards, for sure. But one of the greats at a Euros? You decide.-

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 13 apps, 6 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Quarter-finals (2004)

Consistent on the biggest of stages, Ibrahimovic scored two goals in three separate tournaments. Never got to the business end of the competition but scored some special goals.

Jurgen Klinsmann (West Germany/Germany) – 13 apps, 5 goals. Tournaments played in: 1988, 1992, 1996. Best finish: Winner (1996)

The first player to score at three Euros, Klinsmann reached two finals and a semi-final in his three goes. Not bad. Injured for the semi-final win over England in 1996, he returned to skipper the side to victory at Wembley.

Gerd Muller (West Germany) – 2 apps, 4 goals. Tournaments played in: 1972. Best finish: Winner (1972)

If you’re only going to play in two games at the Euros because of the format at the time, may as well score twice in the semi-final and twice in the final. Iconic.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – 21 apps, 9 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016. Best finish: Winner (2016)

The first player to score at four Euros and would have been the first player to play in five this summer. Will surely manage that in 2021. Nobody has played in as many games at the Euros and only Platini can match his haul of nine goals.

Nobody has won more than his 11 games. Was injured in the final in 2016 but turned into the coach on the sidelines as Portugal finally lifted some silverware to add more fuel to his GOAT claims.

Alan Shearer (England) – 8 apps, 7 goals. Tournaments played in: 1996, 2000. Best finish: Semi-finals (1996)

England players have not generally shone at the Euros but only Platini and Ronaldo have more goals at them than Shearer. Amazing to recall that he only had five goals for England before Euro 96. Would go on to score 25 in his next 40 caps.

A sensation on home turf, winning the golden boot with five goals, and added two more including a rare winner against Germany four years later.

Fernando Torres (Spain) – 13 apps, 5 goals. Tournaments played in: 2004, 2008, 2012. Best finish: Winner (2008, 2012)

The focal point of the Spanish set-up for a long spell, scored the winner in the 2008 final and took the golden boot in 2012 – also scoring in the final.

Marco van Basten (Netherlands) – 9 apps, 5 goals. Tournaments played in: 1988, 1992. Best finish: Winner (1988)

Scorer of the Euros goal? The best player at Euro 88 by a mile, scored a hat-trick against England, the winner in the semi-final after winning the penalty which levelled the game, and then hit the most iconic of volleys in the final.

Missed a penalty in a key shootout in 1992 but we’ll gloss over that.




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