All-time Euro XI: anyone here who could make it?
I first saw a match in the European Nations Cup, as it then was, in 1968 when England beat Spain 1-0 in a qualifier at Wembley to reach the four-team finals in Italy.
Strange to think that at the time, England were the world champions and Spain were the European Champions — and neither country has won anything since. Anyway, as we all like a good argument, here is my selection for the All-time Greats XI.
(The only qualification was that the player was on the winning team in the final)
PETER SCHMEICHEL (Denmark 1992) Had the game of his life in the final against Germany making three world class saves and securing himself a move to Manchester United and a place in English soccer folklore.
FRANZ BECKENBAUER (West Germany 1972) Led the Germans to their first European title in 1972 and was the dominant, commanding figure in a truly exceptional side, better even than the team he led to the World Cup two years later.
MARCEL DESAILLY (France 2000) Versatile player who looked just as comfortable in midfield as he did in defence. Helped France win both the World Cup in 1998 and was outstanding again at the European Championship two years later.
GIACINTO FACCHETTI (Italy 1968) One of the greatest left-backs in soccer history led Italy to their first European success on home soil in 1968. The semi-final against the Soviet Union was decided on the toss of a coin. He called correctly.
GUENTER NETZER (West Germany 1972) Reached the zenith of his career in 1972 with a series of brilliant midfield displays. His performance against England at Wembley in the quarter-finals ranks as one of the greatest ever at the stadium. Against the Soviets in the final he was even better.
MARCO VAN BASTEN (Netherlands 1988) A hat-trick against England in the quarter-finals, a late winner against West Germany in the semis and THAT goal against the Soviet Union in the final. Now attempting to become the first man to win the Euros as a player and then a coach.
GERD MUELLER (West Germany 1972) His total of 14 goals in the 1970 and 1974 World Cup finals overshadow the 11 he scored in the 1972 Euros — six in qualifying and five in the finals with two in the final against the Soviet Union.
MICHEL PLATINI (France 1984) Now the UEFA president, but two decades ago the brilliant Frenchman produced the greatest ever performance in the history of the competition, scoring nine goals and leading France to their first international trophy.
Substitutes: Lev Yashin (Soviet Union 1960), Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands 1988), Antonin Panenka (Czechoslovakia 1976), Brian Laudrup (Denmark 1992), Horst Hrubesch (West Germany 1980), Sandro Mazzola (Italy 1968), Luis Suarez (Spain 1964)
Couldn’t agree more? Couldn’t agree less? Let us know in the comments.
PHOTO: Dutch coach Marco van Basten plays with a ball during a training session at the Stade de Suisse in Berne, June 8, 2008. REUTERS/Michael Kooren