Updated: Thursday, 19 April 2012 17:45 | By pa.press.net

Europe XI: Best Football Players of all time at European Championships



Zinedine Zidane during the European soccer Championship final against Italy

Zinedine Zidane during the European soccer Championship final against Italy

Zinedine Zidane (France)

Zidane was the star man in the France side that added European glory to World Cup success in 2000. He scored the quarter-final winner against Spain and the golden goal penalty in the semi-final triumph over Portugal. Zidane was a subdued presence against Italy in the final, but he had already made his mark and confirmed his status as an all-time great.

Berti Vogts (West Germany)

It is inevitable that any 'greatest' team should be filled with players from Germany, the country that has won the tournament on three occasions and reached the final on three others. Solid at right-back, Vogts' performances in 1972 and 1976 put him just ahead of fellow countryman Matthias Sammer, who also played in two finals.

Marco van Basten (Netherlands)

His goal in the 1988 final against the Soviet Union has been hailed as one of the greatest ever, a dipping volley from a virtually impossible angle. Van Basten had already scored a hat-trick against a hapless England and netted the 88th-minute semi-final winner over hosts West Germany. But that volley eclipsed it all.

Lev Yashin (USSR)

Widely considered to be the greatest goalkeeper of all time, Yashin's period at the top coincided with a golden period for Soviet football. Part of the squad that won the inaugural trophy in 1960 and reached the final four years later, the 'Black Panther' set the standard all other keepers still strive to emulate.

Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)

Captain of the victorious 1972 side, before being a losing finalist four years later. Beckenbauer's status as one of the greatest players of all-time demands his inclusion in any team of great European Championships players.

Laurent Blanc (France)

Suspended for the World Cup final two years earlier, Blanc finally got to experience the feeling of winning a major final at international level at Euro 2000. It was also the third successive finals when he was named in UEFA's team of the tournament.

Paolo Maldini (Italy)

Maldini never actually won the tournament but featured in three championships in his career. Having been a teenager at Euro 88, he was also part of the Italy side that came within a few seconds of lifting the trophy 12 years later before they were frustrated by France.

Xavi (Spain)

Xavi was player of the tournament in 2008 when Spain finally ended their long wait for a major international trophy. Imperious in possession and a willing worker without the ball, he was one of those who helped the long-standing schism between Barcelona and Real Madrid to be set aside in a national cause.

Antonin Panenka (Czechoslovakia)

Not the greatest player but possibly the one who showed the greatest strength of character. In the first-ever penalty shoot-out to decide a major final, Panenka strode up to take his side's final kick, knowing that if he scored Czechoslovakia would beat West Germany. With the pressure at its most intense, Panenka showed no nerves at all, calmly chipping the ball into the centre of the goal as Sepp Maier dived to his right.

Michel Platini (France)

Platini scored two hat-tricks in an incredible nine-goal haul at the 1984 European Championships on home soil, netting the last-minute semi-final winner against Portugal and opening the scoring as France went on to beat Spain in the final.

Gerd Muller (West Germany)

Muller's goalscoring instincts ensured victory for West Germany in 1972, as they scored both goals against Belgium in the semi-final and two more in the final victory over the Soviet Union. He scored six times in qualifying and also found the net in a quarter-final triumph over England at Wembley.

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