By Yusuf Adua (Sport Correspondent)
In the next 24 hours or less, 24 elite national teams will jostle for pride, prize, and position in the Euro 2020 taking place in 2021.
The uniqueness of this tournament does not only stop at the timing because unlike previous years where the Euro tournament was held in one host country, this year’s comes with a slight difference. To mark the tournament’s 60th anniversary, 11 host cities were chosen; Saint Petersburg, Baku, Munich, Rome, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Sevilla, and London’s Wembley stadium.
The Euros as always is the garden where the flowers in the foot of top players in the game shine evidently, this year is set to do the same. Titleholders and better equipped Portugal slog it out with heavy favorite, France and Joachim Low’s Germany in the group stage. That’s really a cracker.
The participating European nations have thus announced their final 26-member squad for the continental event where most of them have blends of young talents and experienced winners. Chelsea and Manchester City are the most represented clubs at Euro 2020 with both dishing out 15 players each while the Bavarians, Bayern Munich are runners-up with 14 players on national duty this Euro 2020 with Juventus coming out third on the list.
Treble winning manager Luis Enrique is parading the youngest squad with the Spain National team with an average age of 24.1 years while Roberto Martinez’s Belgium who will be aiming to guide and guard Belgium’s golden generation to a major trophy in what may be their last shot and Sweden (even without Veteran, Zlatan Ibrahimovic) are the oldest squads in this edition of the European championship.
Another avenue for CR7, Kylian Mbappe, kelvin Debruyne, Xerdan Shaqiri, or Harry Kane to add weight to their legendary status and had Zlatan Ibrahimovic been fit for the Euro 2020, it could have been a possibility for him to become the oldest outfield player to feature in the tournament beating Lothar Matthäus’ record at 39 years 91 days not forgetting the promising attackers boasted by the three lions of England. The tournament promises nothing but excitement.
Having said that, the continental showpiece is set to feature some veterans of the game…
One of the unavoidable relevance of the Euro is that it affords the next generation of players in Europe to show their worth and break into the limelight. Moreover, this is also a stage, which the best in the round leather game make their own and lead their nation to glory.
The prestigious tournament will also see several high-profile experienced players represent their countries.
These football lords have continue to play influential roles in their teams. Though they are now old, their worth and dedication to the side remains indomitable. Take a look at these five players:
5. YURI ZHIRKOV (Russia) – 37 years
Expectedly, Russia is not one of the powerhouses tipped to dictate the heat of this tournament but they will hope to emulate their 2018 FIFA World Cup performance and cause a few upsets. Yuri Zhirkov cerainly is one of their most experienced players.
Played for Chelsea in the past, he is an important part of the team.
He plies his trade with Zenit St. Petersburg. Zhirkov is an ever-present threat on the left wing and will hope to sign off his international career on a high.
4. GORAN PANDEV (North Macedonia) – 37 years
North Macedonia will be counting on the oldest forward going into the tournament.
The former Inter frontman at 37 is still indispensable for the national outfit and will surely play a central role in their fight at the Euros. Pandev ,older than Zhirkov, will be signing off football after the tournament.
3. CRAIG GORDON (Scotland) – 38 years
Gordon will be behind the sticks for Scotland at Euro 2020.
The scots, who managed to qualify for their first major international tournament since 1998 did so in heart-to-mouth fashion by winning the playoff against Serbia on penalties.
Formerly of Sunderland and Celtic, in the books of Hearts at present. Gordon kept 13 clean sheets in 26 league games last season. Let’s see the number of clean sheets he will keep in this tournament.
2. MAARTEN STEKELENBURG (Netherlands) – 38 years
Stekelenburg made the final squad of the Netherlands national team. The 38-year-old shot-stopper now lines up for Dutch Eredivisie giants, Ajax.
Born in September 1982, he is the second-oldest player who will participate in Euro 2020 in 2021. Old man indeed.
Whether Stekelenburg will get the nod ahead of Tim Krul and Marc Bizot is a season movie set to be shot, The former Everton player has over 58 caps for the Oranges and will hope to sign off by lifting the title.
1. PEPE (Portugal) – 38 years
Even if the other four names might be new to you, the former Real Madrid should not.
Born in February 1983, Pepe is the oldest player set to play in the euros. Portugal, a contender for the title, will be counting on the grandpa to marshal their defence in their group of death.
The veteran defender has been a mainstay in the national side since 2008 and was instrumental in Portugal’s 2016 Euro and 2019 UEFA Nations League title wins. He has reached over 100 caps for the Seleccao and will thrive the prospect of adding more.
He’s coming from an impressive season with FC Porto, where they eliminated Robaldo’s Juventus in the UEFA Champions League.
Fernando Santos will hope that Pepe brings his experience to the table as they strive to defend the trophy they won five years back.
Poland’s Kacper Kozłowski is the youngest player to be called up for Euro 2020.
News Live Nigeria welcomes you to Euro 2020 in 2021.
Donate to News Live
Your donation will be much appreciated. It will help our journalistic efforts.