They say there is no substitute for experience and there have been times in UEFA European Championship history when this has proved the case – the prime example being Arnold Mühren, who provided the cross for Marco van Basten's astonishing top-spin volley in the 1988 final against the Soviet Union. He was 37 years and 23 days old at the time, setting a record for the oldest player to pick up a winners' medal.
Muhren was fortunate because not all players can bow out in a blaze of glory. Germany duo Lothar Matthäus and Jens Lehmann set their own records on their final international appearances but while the latter had to settle for a runners-up medal in 2008, the former suffered elimination from the group stage in 2000. UEFA.com takes a closer look at the tournament's oldest contributors.
Oldest player to appear:
Lothar Matthäus (39 years and 91 days)
Matthäus's appearance against Portugal at UEFA EURO 2000 made him the oldest player to have featured at a European Championship and also marked his 150th cap for Germany on his final outing. The former Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern München and Internazionale Milano midfielder surpassed the record set by Denmark coach Morten Olsen, who was 38 years and 308 days old when he featured in a 2-0 defeat by Italy in 1988. The Dane was 37 days older than England goalkeeper Peter Shilton had been when he made his 100th international appearance against the Netherlands in the same tournament two days earlier.
Oldest player to win:
Arnold Mühren (37 years and 23 days)
The 1988 final in Munich will forever be remembered for Van Basten's volley but few know the significance of Mühren's appearance. The former Ajax, Twente, Ipswich Town and Manchester United midfielder delivered the ball for Van Basten to give the Dutch a two-goal lead and he remains the oldest member of any winning team. "Only when we came back to Holland did we realise the madness, the sheer joy and the celebrations that were going on," he recalled. "We missed all that in Germany. The boat trip in Amsterdam was a high point, I couldn't believe what I saw."
Oldest player in a final:
Jens Lehmann (38 years and 232 days)
Having enjoyed a successful career with Schalke, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal, Lehmann was on course to bow out of international football on a high in 2008, only to be denied a winners' medal by Spain. The goalkeeper was an ever-present in Germany's run to the final, keeping two clean sheets on the way, but could not prevent Fernando Torres sealing Spain's first major title in 44 years in Vienna. It will have been a mere consolation for the German to learn that he set a record that night as the oldest player to have appeared in a European Championship final.
Oldest player to score:
Ivica Vastic (38 years and 257 days)
The former Sturm Graz and Austria Wien man came off the bench with 26 minutes remaining against Poland in a UEFA EURO 2008 group stage match and kept his cool in added time to salvage a draw for Austria from the penalty spot. It was his 14th goal on his 50th appearance at international level and one that made him the oldest player to have scored at a final tournament.
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