European Championship All-Time XI

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AFP
The European Championship has provided the stage for some of football's greatest names. Here, using Opta data, we select our all-time XI.

The European Championship has provided the stage for some of football's greatest names. Here, using Opta data, we select our all-time XI.

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    Peter Schmeichel (Goalkeeper, Denmark)

    Denmark's European Championship win in 1992 was one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history, and it was their goalkeeper who played a starring role.

    Peter Schmeichel was involved in four Euros but it was in his second that he left his most profound mark - saving 27 of 31 shots on target he faced, which was more than any other goalkeeper in the competition.

    After keeping out Marco van Basten's penalty in the semi-final, he then repelled all seven shots on target he faced against Germany in a 2-0 final win for the underdogs.

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    Franz Beckenbauer (Defender, Germany)

    Heralded as one of the most influential players ever, Beckenbauer captained West Germany to the final in both of his two European Championship appearances.

    Despite falling short in 1976, 'Der Kaiser' was victorious four years earlier, lifting the trophy in Brussels to make history both nationally and individually.

    The 1972 win for Germany and Beckenbauer marked the first time any player had claimed the European Championship trophy and been named the world's best player in the same year.

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    Paolo Maldini (Defender, Italy)

    AC Milan's all-time record appearance maker never managed to win the European Championship, falling short in the final in 2000, but that did not stop him from leaving a lasting impression.

    With 13 matches played - the joint highest of any Italy player - Maldini's story was one of significant longevity and consistency.

    Since 1980, and despite Maldini having retired from international football in 2002, no Italy player has been able to register more tackles at the Euros (37).

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    Matthias Sammer (Defender, Germany)

    Much like Beckenbauer, Sammer's contribution to the Euros was both collective and individual.

    Following the lead of 'Der Kaiser' in 1972, and then Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in 1980, Sammer was named World Player of the Year in 1996, having helped Germany to their third European Championship crown at Wembley.

    The big defender scored twice in that tournament, whilst also completing more touches (531) and successful passes (346) than any other player.

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    Andres Iniesta (Midfielder, Spain)

    Though Iniesta will inevitably be best remembered in international terms for his 2010 World Cup-winning exploits, the 32-year-old has also been integral to Spain's recent success in European competition.

    The Barcelona man was the only member of the Spain side to start all 12 of the games en route to glory in both 2008 and 2012.

    Iniesta has racked up a total of nine match wins, making him the most successful player in terms of games won in the history of the competition.

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    Xavi (Midfielder, Spain)

    Much like Iniesta, his long-time sidekick for club and country, Xavi followed an almost identical path in terms of Euros success with Spain.

    The veteran midfielder played in two editions of the tournament for La Roja, winning both.

    The 36-year-old is the only player to have registered an assist in two different finals - at Euro 2008 when he played in Fernando Torres for the game's only goal to see off Germany and in the Euro 2012 showpiece when he set up Spain's second and third goals in an eventual 4-0 win over Italy. 

  7. Bongarts

    Zinedine Zidane (Midfielder, France)

    Zidane's playing career was laden with honours, and he unsurprisingly wrote his name in the annals of Euros history.

    The legendary playmaker was the fulcrum of Les Bleus' Euro 2000 win, scoring twice - in the quarter-final and semi-final - and registering an assist, as the French won the trophy with a golden goal against Italy.

    Across his 14 European Championship appearances, Zidane also registered a mammoth 1,183 touches - more than any other player since 1980.

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    Pavel Nedved (Midfielder, Czech Republic)

    A veteran of 12 finals matches, Pavel Nedved is second only in terms of appearances for Czech Republic in the competition to Karel Poborsky (14).

    Unlike the majority of our 'Dream Team', Nedved never won the tournament, although he did make one final appearance in 1996, where Czech Republic were beaten in extra time by Germany.

    The long-time Juventus man created 22 chances, the second most in his country's history at the competition, underlining his attacking prowess in a team that was seldom expected to make the later rounds.

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    Michel Platini (Striker, France)

    Few can match Platini's exploits at the Euros.

    The Frenchman stands alone as the top scorer in tournament history heading into this year's showpiece with nine goals, despite only playing in one edition.

    He scored all of those in 1984, as well as registering an assist, meaning that he had a direct hand in 71 per cent of France's goals on their path to lifting the trophy.

    Platini is also the only player in European Championship history to have scored consecutive hat-tricks - against Belgium and Yugoslavia. Even better, both were 'perfect' trebles, scored with left foot, right foot and a header.

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    Alan Shearer (Striker, England)

    Although Shearer was only able to reach the knockouts in one of his three tournament appearances, the former Newcastle United striker could consider his Euros contribution a success.

    Shearer finished top scorer at Euro '96 on home soil - where England exited to old foes Germany in the semi-finals - as he netted five times in five games.

    In total, from nine appearances across the 1992, 1996 and 2000 editions, Shearer registered seven goals, putting him behind only Platini in the overall scoring charts.

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    Marco van Basten (Striker, Netherlands)

    Scorer of arguably the most famous goal in Euros history, van Basten was named in the team of the tournament at Euro '88, as Netherlands won the trophy for the only time.

    With five goals, the Ajax and AC Milan legend led the Oranje to glory as top scorer, but it was his stunning strike in the final against the Soviet Union that everyone remembers.

    He had already set up Ruud Gullit for the opening goal when Van Basten produced a stunning volley into the far corner to seal a 2-0 win.

    He ultimately had a hand in six of the eight goals that secured Netherlands their maiden Euros win, and was subsequently named World Player of the Year.