Time Out takes a closer look at legends of the European Championships, including Luis Figo, Franz Beckenbauer, Alan Shearer, Ruud Gullit and more
Great goals, winning teams and memorable moments from some all time European football legends
Michel Platini Arguably the greatest French footballer of all time, he was the undisputed star of Euro 1984 captaining his side to glory and scoring nine goals along the way. A winning goal in the last minute of extra time was a tournament highlight for the UEFA president now plagued by ethics and bans
Ruud Gullit In captaining the Netherlands to Euro 1988 glory he outshone the more celebrated Johan Cruyff, who never won international honours. The midfielder’s powerful headed goal was one of the iconic moments from a golden age of Dutch football and his performances make him a legend for numerous European clubs and his country.
Xavi The beating heart of a Spanish team that picked up winners medals in 2008 and 2012 is a modern legend of the game and the epitome of his nation’s all-conquering style at that time. Metronomic passing, record-breaking passing statistics and flair was replicated for Barcelona and the national team.
Alan Shearer Of England’s many nearly men, the Three Lions have never lifted the trophy, Shearer stands out as one of the best performers. Five goals and some tub-thumping performances saw him take home the tournament’s golden boot award but semi-final defeat followed a penalty shoot-out loss to regular rivals Germany.
Franz Beckenbauer Der Kaiser captained Germany to two consecutive European Championship finals, winning the first and losing out on penalties in the second. His glorious performances as a playmaking defender invented the role of sweeper and success at club level and in management make him one of the game’s greatest ever.
Gianluigi Buffon A 20-year playing career at international level is enough to warrant the greatest ever goalkeeper’s inclusion on this legend list, despite never having won the tournament. 156 national caps and a World Cup winners’ medal are his, but the best he achieved in the Euros was a runner up spot in 2012.
Luis Figo Portugal’s most capped player (Cristiano Ronaldo sits just two behind at the time of writing) was a dynamic winger with bags of flair and an eye for goal. Only a shock defeat to Greece denied him a Euro winners’ medal to go with the sackful of titles earned at Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic He has never won the tournament. His most notable appearance, in fact, is a missed penalty in a quarter final against a disappointing Netherlands side in 2004. Despite this for his stunning goals, larger than life personality and sheer Zlatanity he is a Euro legend.
Brian Laudrup By contrast the humble Dane did win the title as a rank outsider. Pace, technique and control of the highest calibre position Laurdrup as one of the all-time European greats a fact demonstrated by his trophies in five different teams at club level. His more celebrated brother Michael was not part of the winning team having quit the Denmark squad before the tournament began.
Pavel Nedved His Czech Republic side did not formally exist until 94 but the dynamic playmaker made an impact unluckily losing the final in 96 to eventual winners Greece in 04. His silky build up play and surging attacks see the former Czech captain labelled one of his generation’s greats.