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The Greatest European Championship Team of All Time

March 23, 2016

- Grant Whittington

There’s been a lot of reminiscing about tournaments gone by here at BetHut but one thing that’s causing debate around the office is exactly who would make the Ultimate XI when it comes to the European Championships.

Whilst some of the younger members can’t see past the magnificent Spanish side which are vying for a hat-trick of back-to-back titles this summer, others remember the magnificent performances of Platini in ‘84 and Brian Laudrup in ‘92.

After hours of discussion, and a few heated exchanges – we’re kidding – we came up with our greatest European Championship team of all-time.

Goalkeeper

Peter Schmeichel is comfortably one of the greatest players of all time and in 1992 he inspired Denmark to an unlikely European Championship win in Sweden.

The team only qualified for the tournament thanks to Yugoslavia being disqualified from the tournament, and with a squad which didn’t include Jan Molby or Michael Laudrup, the team triumphed against the odds beating Germany 2-0 in the Final.

Schmeichel was a key figure in the tournament, being selected in the Team of the Tournament and later winning all manner of silverware with Manchester United.

Defenders

Carles Puyol

Choosing the defence was particularly difficult because there have been some real solid performances over the years. The man we are fitting in at right back however is Carles Puyol. He played for his nation at seven major tournaments including both Euro 2004 and Euro 2008, making the Team of the Tournament in the latter.

He was comfortable in every position across the back four and was a key man at the very beginning of Spain’s dominance, helping lift the trophy in 2008.

Philipp Lahm

Philipp Lahm is one of the most reliable full backs on the planet and has consistently been so for well over a decade.

He retired from international football after lifting the 2014 World Cup as captain, and played a role in the five previous major tournaments for Germany. He’s been included in the last two teams of the year, and has been utilised for his nation in both left and right back positions. He fits in for us on the left and

Laurent Blanc

In France Laurent Blanc is a legend. Now the manager of PSG, the centre back played 97 times for his country over an 11-year period, helping lift the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000 before retiring from international football shortly after.

During his time in the defence alongside Desailly, Thuram, and Lizarazu, France never lost a game and in a poll by France Football he was voted the fourth best French player of all time.

His reading of the game was unmatched and he will be forever remembered as a true great of the game.

Karlheinz Forster

During his peak, Karlheinz Forster was one of the best man-markers in the game and was at the heart of the defence during Germany’s victorious Euro 1980 campaign, marking the lethal Jan Ceulemans out of the game against Belgium in the Final.

He earned 81 caps for Germany and was voted in the Team of the Tournament in both 1980 and 1984 even though the team failed to make it through the Group Stage.

Midfielders

Xavi

Xavi is one of the greatest midfielders of all time and his partnership with Andres Iniesta in the heart of the Spanish midfield has been the main factor in the country’s dominance over the last few years.

He held together the team and was the linchpin in their tika-taka system. His vision was truly unrivalled regularly chalking up passes completed into the three figures. During Spain’s two recent championship wins he was voted into the Team of the Tournament. A player who will likely be missed this time round for Spain.

Andres Iniesta

In 2012 Andres Iniesta was named Player of the Tournament and for good reason too. His performances during the championship were truly phenomenal and capped off by a dominant display against Italy in the Final where they triumphed 4-0.

Now at 31, he’ll be competing in his last European Championships in the summer and will likely be a key figure once again.

Zinedine Zidane

For some Zinedine Zidane is the greatest player who ever lived. For a balding 6’1” figure with a penchant for head-butting, his grace was incredible. He won FIFA World Player of the Year three times and won everything there is to win in the game.

His first foray into European Championship football was at Euro ’96 when the French reached the Semi-Final but it was at France ’98 and Euro 2000 where he really shone helping France become the World and European Champions, a feat not achieved since 1974.

He was named Player of the Tournament in 2000 and was instrumental in France’s progression throughout the tournament.

Michel Platini

Michel Platini is the European Championship’s top scorer despite only competing in one tournament. During Euro 1984 he captained his side to the title scoring an incredible nine goals in just five games, gaining legendary status in his country.

Naturally that has been tarnished somewhat over the last few years, but on the field he was a real great and makes our team.

Strikers

Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer is one of England’s greatest ever strikers and despite the nation never winning a tournament, still makes our Euro’s greatest ever team.

Across three tournaments he netted seven times in nine matches and was instrumental in England’s run to the Semi-Final in 1996 netting in the opener against Switzerland and two in their demolition of the Netherlands.

Marco van Basten

We all remember Van Basten for his rocket of a volley against the USSR at Euro ’88 but his performances in other tournaments were also just as notable.

The Dutchman competed in Euro 1992 as well as ’88 and being named in Team of the Tournament in both and overall scored five goals in nine games in the Euros. He is currently the Netherlands’ assistant manager but couldn’t help them qualify for this summer’s tournament in what was one of the biggest shocks of the qualifying campaign.

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