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 the FIFA World Cups of 1990 and 1994 as well as EURO '92 before getting his chance at EURO '96, aged 34. He kept his goal intact throughout the group stage, saving a penalty from Italy's Gianfranco Zola in the final pool game and then stopped another spot-kick, from Gareth Southgate, in the semi-final shoot-out against England. Köpke, who played for 1. FC Nürnberg, Eintracht Frankfurt and Olympique de Marseille, ended his international career at the 1998 World Cup in France with 59 caps, to be succeeded by Oliver Kahn, whom he later trained as Germany's goalkeeping coach.
DF: Laurent Blanc (France)
Blanc was voted into UEFA's Team of the Tournament in three successive UEFA European Championships, making the grade in 1992, 1996 and at UEFA EURO 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 skills, Blanc retired from international football with 97 caps. He began his career, at Montpellier Hérault SC, initially as a midfielder before passing through nine different clubs, including FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano and Manchester United FC as an elegant centre-half. He later became coach of FC Girondins de Bordeaux and coach of Les Bleus.
DF: Marcel Desailly (France)
A star performer for over a decade, Desailly's displays in the EURO finals of 1996 and 2000 gained him back-to-back selections for UEFA's Team of the Tournament. A UEFA Champions League winner with Olympique de 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 AC Milan and Chelsea FC, where he spent six years, he amassed 116 French caps before ending his career in the Middle East and becoming a UNICEF ambassador.
DF: Matthias Sammer (Germany)
His Franz Beckenbauer-like performances as sweeper at EURO '96, where he played every minute of Germany's triumphant campaign and 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 team, Sammer scored six goals in 23 appearances for East Germany and appeared 51 times post-unification, striking eight times. Twice an East German league winner with FC Dynamo Dresden, Sammer also won the Bundesliga three times; once with VfB 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 went on to be the German Football Association's sporting director.
DF: Paolo Maldini (Italy)
One of the greatest ever defenders, Maldini played over 1,000 matches for club and country and remains Italy's record cap-holder, with 126 appearances between 1988 and 2002. Maldini shone in several international tournaments, from his first (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 UEFA EURO 2000, where Italy were sunk by France's golden goal in the final. 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 UEFA Champions League titles and seven Serie A crowns.
MF: Paul Gascoigne (England)
After winning global fame at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Gascoigne's career was stalled by long absences, including a torn cruciate ligament and a broken leg, but he recaptured his form at EURO '96. The former Newcastle United FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC and S.S. Lazio midfielder had just had a dream debut season for Rangers FC, 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 stabbing in a golden goal during the semi-final against Germany.
MF: Dieter Eilts (Germany)
Eilts went to EURO '96 as an outstanding club servant with SV Werder Bremen, but one with no major international tournament, experience so the wiry East Frisian 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 in England, one after Eilts had been forced off injured in the final. Six of his 31 caps came at EURO '96 and he went on to captain Bremen until 2002, clocking up 390 Bundesliga appearances in 17 years. He won two German championships, three German Cups and the 1992 UEFA European Cup Winners' Cup. He has since coached Germany's Under-19 and U21 squads.
MF: Karel Poborský (Czech Republic)
Poborský made his name at EURO '96 with a string of dazzling performances in England, including an outrageous winning goal – an impromptu lob – in the quarter-final against Portugal as the Czechs went all the way to the decider versus Germany. He would go on to claim 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 appearance, 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 FC, SL Benfica and AS Roma but it was his international performances that marked him out for greatness.
FW: Alan Shearer (England)
Shearer's memorable summer had begun when he became the Premier League's top scorer for the second season running with 31 goals and ended with a world record £15m transfer from Blackburn Rovers FC to Newcastle United FC. In between there was EURO '96, where he ended a 21-month goal drought by top-scoring in the tournament with goals against Switzerland, Scotland, the Netherlands (two) and Germany. He also scored shoot-out penalties against Spain and Germany, but England lost in the semi-finals. As England captain Shearer struck twice at UEFA EURO 2000 taking his tally to 30 goals in 63 caps but ended his international career aged 29. He would play 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 had spearheaded their run to the 1994 FIFA World Cup semi-finals again starred in England, scoring in all three group matches. Stoichkov, the joint-top goalscorer in the United States and 1994 Ballon d'Or winner, won the 1992 European Champion Clubs' Cup with FC Barcelona two years after leaving PFC CSKA Sofia, and returned to 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 before briefly taking over at RC Celta de Vigo.
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 scoring six goals to propel Croatia to third place. However, it was EURO '96 that made the left-footed striker a household name. After plundering a then-record 12 goals in qualifying, Šuker added three more at the finals, two of them in a virtuoso performance against Denmark. His was soon snapped up from Sevilla FC by Real Madrid CF where a top-scoring 24-goal tally and league title immediately followed. A year later came UEFA Champions League triumph and a magical World Cup. Šuker, who also played for Arsenal FC, bowed out at the 2002 World Cup with 45 international goals.
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