The European Championships have played host to some enthralling games over last 50 or so years. Some consider it the greatest international tournament in the world.
The Championships have seen some fantastic performances from players who seemed destined to perform on the biggest stage. So which players have had the biggest impact?
The great Dane was a titan in goal. Schmeichel was arguably the greatest goalkeeper of a generation and although he played in four European Championships, he will be remembered for his heroics in 1992.
The former Red Devils keeper made a massive save against Ballon d’Or winner Marco Van Basten in the semi-final shootout against the Netherlands, and produced three more world class stops against Germany in the final.
Euro Apps: 11
The French wizard was absolutely unplayable in his day. The former Bordeaux player helped France to the quarter-final stage in 1996, but it was his performances at Euro 2000 that really earned Zidane his legendary status at the Euros.
After winning the 1998 World Cup on home soil he then helped ‘Les Bleus’ to glory at Euro 2000 in the Netherlands and Belgium. Zidane was full of trickery and skill in the group stages performing his iconic ‘Marseilles turn’, before eventually scoring a ‘Golden Goal’ penalty against Portugal in the semis. France were hardly at their best at Euro 2004, but Zidane was one of the few players who came out of the tournament with his reputation intact, scoring three goals. One a fantastic free-kick against England.
Euro Apps: 14
Euro Goals: 5
Marco van Basten
The Dutch forward will always be remembered for scoring the greatest goal at a European Championships. He played some of his greatest football at the Euro 88 tournament finishing as top goal scorer with five goals.
The Dutchman scored a hat-trick against England to eliminate them from the group stages, which was followed by a brilliant turn and shot against the hosts and favourites West-Germany. But his Euro legacy will live on, thanks to the incredible volley he scored from a near impossible angle in the final against the Soviets.
Euro Apps: 9
Euro Goals: 5
The Spanish striker was part of the ‘Golden generation’ that won back-to-back Euro titles in 2008 to 2012. He formed a devastating partnership with David Villa in 2008 as Spain played some fantastic football, scoring twice himself. He also scored the only goal of the game against Germany in the final, claiming the man-of-the match accolade.
In 2012 he finished as top goal scorer in the tournament. He narrowly edged out Mario Gomez of Germany having finished with three goals and one assist, the same as Gomez but in fewer minutes. He also managed a second final goal, scoring against Italy in the 4-0 demolition. Although Torres won’t be going to Euro 2016 he will always be remembered for those two final goals.
Euro Apps: 13
Euro Goals: 5
The king of France. No player has had a greater impact at a European Championships than the Frenchman. He scored nine goals at Euro 84 including two hat-tricks. The Juventus Fantastita was part of the ‘magic square’ playing alongside Luis Fernandez, Jean Tigana and Alain Giresse.
Platini was the first French player to captain a side to glory at an international tournament. His side beat Spain in the final at the Princes Stadium in Paris, with Platini scoring from a free-kick. He also managed a ‘perfect hat-trick’ against Denmark in the group stages. Although Platini is now often swamped in controversy, he will always be remembered for his performance at that tournament.
Euro Apps: 5
Euro Goals: 9
The European tournaments have seen some fantastic pieces of footballing ability over time, and it will be interesting to see who stakes their claim to be considered the greatest Euro player at this year’s tournament.