The 2020 European Championships were set to mark the 50th anniversary of the tournament since its birth in 1960 and while it was delayed a year, the celebration will proceed.
Across the 15 tournaments to happen to date, some of the world’s best countries and footballers have taken home a winners’ medal, with Germany and Spain leading the way with three victories each. We’ve seen the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Marco van Basten, Michel Platini and Sergio Ramos all take centre stage in trophy-winning tournaments over the years, and someone new will be hoping to join them this year.
But for every big name to write himself European Championships history en route to glory, there is an equally well-known player that may have fallen out of memory for a particular squad — despite picking up a winners’ medal. And it’s those players we’re focusing on here.
Read on for eight players you may have forgotten picking up a European Championships winners’ medal.
Nicolas Anelka (France)
Winners’ medal: Euro 2000
Nicolas Anelka is one of the more well-known Frenchmen of the 21st century, especially in England after spells with Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton, Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion (not to mention Arsenal in the 1990s). He also earned 69 caps for France, but on the international stage, he may be most remembered by some for his part in Les Bleus’ disastrous 2010 World Cup when he was sent home for reportedly abusing manager Raymond Domenech.
But long before that, Anelka was tasting success with the French national team at Euro 2000. It was the then 21-year-old’s first major tournament with France having made his debut just before the 1998 World Cup, before becoming a bigger part of the team in qualifying for the European Championships. Anelka played five times at Euro 2000, starting three games including the semi-final win over Portugal, but he was an unused substitute in the final, having to watch on as France beat Italy 2-1 after extra-time before picking up his medal.
Santi Cazorla (Spain)
Winners’ medals: Euro 2008 & Euro 2012
Santi Cazorla has two European Championship winners’ medals. Something like that shouldn’t be surprising because he was a wonderful player in his prime, before injuries struck, and is still capable of a bit of magic. But when you think of Spain’s back-to-back glories in 2008 and 2012, your mind will rarely go to Cazorla.
The former Arsenal playmaker was a late arrival to the Spanish set-up when they were planning for Euro 2008, only making his debut in the warm-up games for the tournament. At the actual tournament, Cazorla played five times, starting once, including a substitute appearance in the final win over Germany. Four years later, he played just 18 minutes as Spain won Euro 2012, being an unused substitute in the remaining four games of the tournament.
Felix Magath (Germany)
Winners’ medal: Euro 1980
For fans of a certain age, Felix Magath is well known as a manager after spells in charge of German teams including Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt, and a seven-month stint with Fulham. But not many will remember his playing career, in which he spent 10 years at Hamburg.
Magath made 43 appearances for West Germany during his career and was part of three major tournaments (reaching the final in all three), including Euro 1980. Then, the tournament consisted of a group stage and a final, with only four games played. Magath played in two of West Germany’s four games and was an unused sub as they beat Belgium 2-1 in the final.
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Adrien Silva (Portugal)
Winners’ medal: Euro 2016
Adrien Silva is a man, unfortunately, most known for his part in a disastrous transfer from Sporting CP to Leicester in 2017 (through no fault of his own). A deal was agreed between the two clubs in August 2017, but the documents required were not received by FIFA until 14 seconds after the deadline had closed, meaning Silva could not represent his new team until January 2018.
But before then Silva was part of the Portugal squad that won their first major tournament at Euro 2016, playing a fairly big role. After sitting out of the group stages, Silva started all four of Portugal’s knockout round fixtures to help them beat France 1-0 in the final.
Fernando Llorente (Spain)
Winners’ medal: Euro 2012
At the 2010 World Cup, Fernando Llorente picked up a winners’ medal from just 31 minutes of action, taken to South Africa to provide back-up for Spain’s talented attack. It was a similar case in 2012, only this time, Llorente did not get onto the pitch for Spain as they won back-to-back European Championships, having to watch on as Fernando Torres was the chosen striker, while Cesc Fabregas was tested as a False No.9.
He still got a winner’s medal, though.
Ruben de la Red (Spain)
Winners’ medal: Euro 2000
Now, this is a very unique story. Ruben de la Red played three times for the Spanish national team throughout his career, one which unfortunately lasted just six years at senior level due to a heart problem. He played most of his club football for Real Madrid Castilla, having come through the ranks at Los Blancos but he did also have a year at Getafe.
His performances in that year (2007-08) saw De la Red called up to the Spain squad for Euro 2008, making his debut in the warm-up matches like Cazorla. De la Red would go on to make one appearance at Euro 2008, in Spain’s final group stage game against Greece, equalising for La Roja in a 2-1 win — his final international cap.
Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)
Winners’ medal: Euro 2016
Going back to Portugal’s Euro 2016 win, the victory over France allowed some of the country’s modern legends to bow out on a high. One of those was Ricardo Carvalho, who retired from international football after his final Euro 2016 appearance.
The veteran, who won a plethora of league titles in his club career at Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid, started all three of Portugal’s group games as they scraped through on three draws. Carvalho was then an unused substitute in the final four games, watching on from the sidelines before eventually lifting the trophy.
Dani Guiza (Spain)
Winners’ medal: Euro 2008
Like De la Red, Dani Guiza made his Spain debut in 2008, though his first game came slightly earlier in the February internationals, starting in a 1-0 win over France. The centre-forward, perennially linked with Arsenal during his peak, played four times for Spain in Euro 2008 including 12 minutes in the final.
He assisted De la Red’s goal against Greece and scored the winner in the final group stage game, before adding another goal in the 3-0 semi-final win over Russia. Only David Villa scored more goals for Spain at Euro 2008 than Guiza, who was tied on two alongside Fernando Torres.