GK: Andreas Köpke (Germany)
Though voted 1993 German footballer of the year, Köpke was the long-time understudy to Bodo Illgner and sat on the bench throughout three major final tournaments before getting his chance at EURO '96, aged 34. He kept his goal intact throughout the group stage, saving a Gianfranco Zola penalty, and then stopped another spot kick from Gareth Southgate in the semi-final shoot-out against England. Köpke, who played for Nürnberg, Frankfurt and Marseille, ended his international career at the 1998 FIFA World Cup with 59 caps. He became Germany's goalkeeping coach.
DF: Laurent Blanc (France)
Blanc was voted into UEFA's team of the tournament in three successive EUROs, making the grade in 1992, 1996 and 2000, where he bowed out with victory in the final – an honour cruelly denied him through suspension at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Nicknamed Le Président on account of his authority, elegance and leadership, Blanc started at Montpellier as a midfielder before representing Barcelona, Internazionale Milano and Manchester United as a centre-half, winning myriad honours. He won the Ligue 1 title as Bordeaux coach and led France at UEFA EURO 2012 before taking over at Paris Saint-Germain.
DF: Marcel Desailly (France)
Desailly's displays at EURO '96 and UEFA EURO 2000 gained him back-to-back selections for UEFA's team of the tournament. A UEFA Champions League winner with Marseille and AC Milan in successive seasons, Desailly helped France to the EURO '96 semi-finals and 1998 FIFA World Cup success, despite being sent off in the final. At UEFA EURO 2000, he was the only Frenchman to start and finish all six matches and arguably the most consistent central defender of the tournament. An icon at Milan and Chelsea, where he spent six years, he amassed 116 caps. He is now a UNICEF ambassador.
DF: Matthias Sammer (Germany)
His Franz Beckenbauer-like performances as sweeper at EURO '96, where he scored winning goals against Russia and Croatia, earned Sammer the European Footballer of the Year award. The first East German to represent the unified Germany, Sammer was twice an East German league winner with Dynamo Dresden and then won the Bundesliga three times; once with Stuttgart and twice at Borussia Dortmund, where he also claimed the 1997 UEFA Champions League title. He coached both clubs after a knee injury forced his premature retirement aged 30 and is now Bayern München sporting director.
DF: Paolo Maldini (Italy)
One of the greatest ever defenders, Maldini played over 1,000 matches for club and country and made an Italy record 126 appearances between 1988 and 2002. Maldini shone from his first international tournament (EURO '88) to his last (2002 FIFA World Cup), coming closest to winning honours at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where the Azzurri lost the final to Brazil on penalties, and the UEFA EURO 2000 final, which Italy lost to France's golden goal. It was ironic that Italy should win the 2006 World Cup without their talisman, but Maldini won EURO Team of the Tournament places in 1996 and 2000 not to mention five European Cups and seven Serie A crowns.
MF: Paul Gascoigne (England)
After winning global fame at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Gascoigne was stalled by long absences, but he recaptured his form at EURO '96. The former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Lazio midfielder had just had a dream debut season for Rangers, and any doubts that he was back to his best were thrown off when he scored with a wonderful flick and volley against Scotland, who had missed a penalty seconds earlier. In the next game against the Netherlands, 'Gazza' made two goals in a stunning 4-1 victory and he was centimetres away from a golden goal during the semi-final against Germany.
MF: Dieter Eilts (Germany)
Eilts went to EURO '96 as an outstanding club servant with Werder Bremen, but with no major international tournament experience – he surprised everybody with his composure as anchorman. His tactical appreciation and willingness to drop back enabled libero Matthias Sammer to sweep forward and Germany conceded just three goals, one after Eilts had been forced off injured in the final. He went on to captain Bremen until 2002, clocking up 390 Bundesliga appearances in 17 years. Eilts won two German championships, three German Cups and the 1992 European Cup Winners' Cup. He has since coached Germany's U19 and U21 sides and is now director of the Bremen academy.
MF: Karel Poborský (Czech Republic)
Poborský made his name at EURO '96 with a string of dazzling performances, including an outrageous impromptu lob, the winner, in the quarter-final against Portugal as the Czechs ended runners-up. He claimed his 118th cap at the 2006 FIFA World Cup against Italy and finished up with eight goals, one of them a penalty against France at UEFA EURO 2000. His third UEFA European Championship, in 2004, was almost as impressive as his first, soured only by the silver goal last-four defeat by Greece. Poborský played for Manchester United, Benfica and Roma, but it was his international performances that marked him out.
FW: Alan Shearer (England)
Shearer began summer 1996 on the back of a season which brought 31 Premier League goals and ended it with a world-record move from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United. In between there was EURO '96, where he ended a 21-month international goal drought with a tournament high of five goals. He also scored shoot-out penalties against Spain and Germany, but England lost in the semis. As England captain Shearer struck twice at UEFA EURO 2000, taking his tally to 30 goals in 63 caps, but he ended his international career aged 29. He played another six seasons for Newcastle, whom he briefly managed, before moving into punditry.
FW: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)
Bulgaria exited EURO '96 at the group stage but the man who spearheaded their run to the 1994 FIFA World Cup semi-finals again starred in England, scoring in all three group matches. Stoichkov, the 1994 Ballon d'Or winner, lifted the 1992 European Champion Clubs' Cup with Barcelona two years after leaving CSKA Sofia, and returned to the Camp Nou to lift the 1996/97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. A headstrong character, he twice quit international football but represented Bulgaria at the 1998 World Cup and won 83 caps, reaping 37 goals. After spells in Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United States, he coached Bulgaria and various club sides.
FW: Davor Šuker (Croatia)
The crowning glory of Šuker's international career came at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where he won the Golden Boot after six goals that propelled Croatia to third place. However, it was EURO '96 that made the left-footed striker a household name. After 12 goals in qualifying, Šuker added three more at the finals, two of them in a virtuoso performance against Denmark. He was soon snapped up from Sevilla by Real Madrid, where 24 goals earned a league title immediately. A year later came UEFA Champions League glory and a magical World Cup. Šuker, who also played for Arsenal, bowed out in 2002 with 45 international goals.
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