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Euros: All Time XI featuring Gullit, Platini, Ronaldo and more

Ahead of Euro 2024, we have put together our version of the greatest team in the history of tournament. 

Picking 11 players to play on the grandest stage in European football was not an easy task.

As a result we have left out some world-class talent including the likes of Iker Casillas, Xavi, Lothar Matthaus, Gerd Muller and Patrick Vieira.

Here are the chosen ones who make up a pretty formidable line-up…

Peter Schmeichel

Country: Denmark
Euros appearances: 4 (1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000)
Euros best performance: 1992 - Winners
International caps: 129
International goals: 1

Arguably the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history, Schmeichel makes our Euros team ahead of other legendary ‘keepers such as Lev Yashin, Dino Zoff and Iker Casillas.

A veteran of four Finals, Schmeichel had spent one season at Manchester United before Denmark took part in the 1992 tournament, after taking Yugoslavia’s spot despite initially not qualifying. 

Schmeichel firmly established himself as one of the world’s best with a number of magnificent performances, including a clean sheet against England before keeping the likes of Jean-Pierre Papin and Eric Cantona at bay in a 2-1 victory over much-fancied France.

His penalty shootout save from Marco van Basten in the semi-finals against the Netherlands saw Denmark reach the final where they shocked Germany, with Schmeichel making a number of key saves in their surprise 2-0 triumph.

Sergio Ramos

Country: Spain
Euros appearances: 3 (2008, 2012 and 2016)
Euros best performance: 2008 and 2012 - Winners
International caps: 180
International goals: 23

Prior to Euro 2008, Spain had only ever won one trophy on the international stage, the 1964 European Championship.

All that was about to change, however, as Spain embarked on a wonderful trophy-laden era which saw them win consecutive European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup sandwiched in between.

Ramos was a dominant force at both right-back and centre-back during his Spain career, winning the Euros in both positions and also contributing 23 goals from defence.

Spain’s most-capped player was also named in the Team of the Tournament alongside a number of his compatriots at Euro 2012.

Franz Beckenbauer

Country: West Germany
Euros appearances: 2 (1972 and 1976)
Euros best performance: 1972 - Winners
International caps: 103
International goals: 14

Der Kaiser became West Germany’s captain in 1971 and led his side to European Championship glory in Belgium the following year, as they beat Soviet Union 3-0 in the final.

After leading his country to become the first nation to hold both the European Championship and the World Cup simultaneously two years later, Beckenbauer was also part of the Euro 1976 team which reached the final, before a penalty shootout defeat to Czechoslovakia.

He was named in the Team of the Tournament in the two European Championships he played in, and he was also named as the Ballon d’Or winner at the end of each of those years.

Comfortable playing in the heart of defence or further forward in midfield, Beckenbauer’s inclusion is one of the easiest in this line-up.

Matthias Sammer

Country: East Germany/Germany
Euros appearances: 2 (1992 and 1996)
Euros best performance: 1996 - Winners
International caps: 74
International goals: 14

The other centre-back position was a more difficult choice, with the likes of Laurent Blanc, Ronald Koeman, Carles Puyol and Marcel Desailly all having valid claims.

But we have gone with Matthias Sammer, who made the sweeper role his own in the early to mid-nineties both domestically and at international level.

Whilst he wasn’t blessed with natural pace for a defender, his intelligence, commanding presence and the ability to bring the ball from defence made him a world-class operator.

He was part of the Germany side that reached the final in 1992 before being named Player of the Tournament as his side went one better at Euro 1996, which also earned him the Ballon d’Or.

Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini

Country: Italy
Euros appearances: 3 (1988, 1996 and 2000)
Euros best performance: 2000 – Runners-Up
International caps: 126
International goals: 7

Paolo Maldini is the only player in our team that hasn’t lifted a European Championship trophy, but he is a must-have on the left side of the defence. 

Famed for telling a journalist, ‘if I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake’, Maldini was a stalwart of the Italy defence across three different decades.

He was part of the Italy side that came within a minute of winning Euro 2000, only for France to equalise in the 94th minute and subsequently grab the golden goal in extra-time.

In all three European Championships he appeared, the Milan colossus was named in the official Team of the Tournament.

Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit

Country: Netherlands
Euros appearances: 2 (1988 and 1992)
Euros best performance: 1988 – Winners
International caps: 66
International goals: 17

For a man who could produce match-winning performances from several positions, the decision was not about making the team, it was about where he operates within the team.

Gullit became the first Dutch player to lift an international trophy as he guided his side to Euro 1988 glory in Germany.

Epitomising the Dutch Total Football philosophy, Gullit galvanised a nation which had missed out on qualification for previous two European Championships and the 1986 World Cup.

He was also runner-up to European Championship winning teammate Marco van Basten in the Ballon d’Or that year, having won the award the previous year.

Zinedine Zidane

Country: France
Euros appearances: 3 (1996, 2000 and 2004)
Euros best performance: 2000 – Winners
International caps: 108
International goals: 31

Zidane featured in three European Championships and whilst there were standout moments in 1996 and 2004, including a late double against England in the latter, it was 2000 when Zidane was in his prime.

He oozed class throughout and helped lead France to the trophy, before being named Player of the Tournament after a number of incredible displays.

It was one of the most dominant individual performances ever seen at an international tournament, even rivalling Diego Maradona at the 1986 World Cup.

He had already achieved legendary status with his two goals in the World Cup final two years earlier, but he took his game to another level at Euro 2000 and is arguably his country’s greatest ever player.

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta

Country: Spain
Euros appearances: 3 (2008, 2012 and 2016)
Euros best performance: 2008 and 2012 – Winners
International caps: 131
International goals: 13

It was a close call between Andres Iniesta and his compatriot Xavi, but we’ve gone for the former alongside Gullit and Zidane in our midfield three.

Iniesta was part of the Spain side that ended their long wait for international glory at Euro 2008, earning the man of the match award in the semi-final win against Russia and playing a key role in the 1-0 victory over Germany in the final.

After his winner in the 2010 World Cup final, Iniesta’s game rose to another level at Euro 2012 as he firmly established himself amongst the best players in the world.

He won three man of the match awards throughout the tournament and was also officially named as the tournament’s best player.

Michel Platini

Country: France
Euros appearances: 1 (1984)
Euros best performance: 1984 – Winners
International caps: 72
International goals: 41

He may have only appeared in one European Championship, but Michel Platini’s performances at Euro 1984 were simply extraordinary.

He captained his country to their first ever major international trophy on home soil, after France had failed to qualify for the five previous European Championships.

The midfielder scored nine goals including a hat-trick against Belgium in the group stage, a last-minute winner against Portugal in the last four and the opener against Spain in the final.

His creativity, vision, range of passing and ability from set pieces earn him a place behind the front two in our greatest Euros team.

Marco van Basten

Country: Netherlands
Euros appearances: 2 (1988 and 1992)
Euros best performance: 1984 – Winners
International caps: 72
International goals: 41

We had to leave out two exceptional strikers in Alan Shearer and Antoine Griezmann, who have both netted seven times in European Championships, but we couldn’t leave out Marco van Basten.

The Ajax and Milan hero lit up Euro 1988 as the Netherlands won their first international trophy.

His five goals at the tournament included a hat-trick against England and a spectacular volley against Soviet Union in the final.

The 1992 run to the semi-finals proved to be van Basten’s last tournament outing as his career was cruelly short due to injury, but his brilliance in 1988 will forever be remembered in the Netherlands.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Country: Portugal
Euros appearances: 5 (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020)
Euros best performance: 2016 – Winners
International caps: 205
International goals: 128

As one of the greatest players of all-time, Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player in history to play in five European Championships.

His total of 14 Euros goals puts him five clear of Michel Platini in second, while he also has the most Finals appearances with 25, six clear of teammates Pepe and Joao Moutinho.

When including qualifiers too, his haul of 50 is double the tally of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in second place and if he features at Euro 2024 he could become the oldest scorer in a European Championship.

He played a significant role in Portugal’s run to win Euro 2016 and his tally of international goals is unlikely to be surpassed for a long time.

Euro 2024

To Win Outright

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