UEFA announce Euro All-Time XI after 3.5 million fans vote online
The 15th edition of Euro kicks off on 10 June when hosts France take on Romania in the first game of the month-long competition. The quadrennial tournament has seen a number of historic matches over the past few decades and quite a few legends forged their names in the history books with performances that will be remembered for a long time to come.
To ensure that they would never be forgotten, UEFA decided to name an all-time Euro XI to honour these legends. But they did not do it on their own. In fact, they took the help of over 3.5 million people – the fans. And as with such team selections, there were a few picks which could be construed as controversial as favouritism and fanaticism trump logic and statistics.
Goalkeeper and Defence
The goalkeeper chosen was none other than Italy and Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon. While the 38-year-old Azzurri shot-stopper has never won the Euro, he did finish runners-up in 2012 to Spain – the team that has won the last two Euros with Iker Casillas leading La Furia Roja on both occasions.
The defence also sees another legendary Italian with Paolo Maldini at left-back. While Maldini is a club legend having won seven Serie A titles and five Champions League trophies, he is also one other player who has not had much success with the national team.
The centre-back partnership sees Spain’s Carles Puyol and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer. Puyol was part of the all-conquering Spain side that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup while Beckenbauer was one of the best defenders at Euro 1972 – which he won with West Germany.
Another German makes up the defensive line with Philipp Lahm taking up the right-back position. The Bayern Munich full-back is another player who has not won Euro, coming close in 2008 when they lost the final 1-0 to Spain.
The midfield features a star-studded lineup of Italy’s Andrea Pirlo, France Zinedine Zidane and Spain’s Andres Iniesta. Pirlo, who won the World Cup in 2006 (as did Buffon), his best finish was a runners-up medal in 2012 when Spain steamrolled Italy 4-0 in the final.
Zidane and Iniesta, however, have won both Euro and the World Cup. While Zidane inspired France to two consecutive trophies (1998 World Cup and 2000 Euro), Iniesta was a key member of the squad that won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup (where he scored the winner in the final) and Euro 2012.
The forward line sees two of the most frightening forwards of the past decade on either flank with one legendary striker leading the line. Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry grew into world class players in the Premier League before finding even more success in La Liga.
Henry was in the same squad as Zidane and won the 1998 World Cup followed by Euro 2000 (finishing as Les Bleus’ top goal scorer) to cement his name among the greats. On the other hand, Ronaldo has never won a trophy with Portugal – a side blessed with many world class individual talents over the years but not enough to make a winning team. The closest he got was Euro 2004 when the hosts lost to Greece in the final.
Ronaldo’s selection should not come as a surprise, though. He has won three Ballons d’Or after all. And Ronaldo still has a chance to become the all-time top goal scorer in Euro history at this tournament.
The striker selected by the fans was Netherlands, Ajax and AC Milan legend Marco van Basten. Part of the famous Dutch squad that won Euro 1988, Van Basten was the top goal scorer with 5 goals – scoring in the semi-final and final.