We’re less than a year away from the best international soccer tournament in the world – The Euro. Yes, there’s the World Cup, but when it’s only European teams, the games are much better. Just re-watch Euro 2008 and enjoy. Forget about the 2004 edition, when Greece ruined it for all of us.
Michel Platini is planning on ruining it for us in 2016, making it, needlessly, at 24 team tournament. Whatever. Only means we’ll enjoy the last 16 team edition much more. For now, until we get to Poland and the Ukraine, Euro 2012, it’s good to glance over the greatest scorers in the history of the UEFA European Championship. The head of UEFA, Platini, is here as well.
5 Goals – Milan Baros (Czech Republic), Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany), Savo Milosevic (Serbia), Marco van Basten (The Netherlands), Zinedine Zidane (France)
Milan Baros, scoring quite often for Galatasaray these past three seasons, scored all of his Euro Goals in the 2004 Euro in Portugal, winning the tournament’s golden boot award. He scored in all the group matches and added two in the quarter final 3-0 win over Denmark.
Now head coach of the United States soccer team, Jurgen Klinsmann played in three European Championships (1988, 1992, 1996), with West Germany and Germany, winning it in 1996. He scored one goal in ’88 tourney, one in 1992 and three in Euro 1996.
Savo Miss-a-lot-evich did score goals, despite his nickname, 37 for Serbia in 102 caps and 206 more for his clubs. He scored all of his five goals in Euro 2000, sharing the top scorer award with Patrick Kluivert.
Marco van Basten also did all of his scoring work in probably his, and Holland’s, finest moment, the 1988 Euro, which included one of the most famous and best strikes by any striker on the big stage:
Zinedine Zidane, maybe the greatest footballer of the last 20 years, played in three Euro tournaments, scoring three goals in the 2004 edition and two, both in knockout stages, en route to France completing the World Cup-Euro double in 2000.
6 Goals – Nuno Gomes (Portugal), Thierry Henry (France), Patrick Kluivert (The Netherlands), Ruud van Nistelrooy (The Netherlands)
Nuno Gomes, at 35, is still playing, making his debut season with SC Braga. He scored in three different Euro tournaments – Four in Euro 2000, one big goal against Spain at home in 2004 and one more in a losing effort against Germany (2-3) in Euro 2008.
Now doing his thing in New York, the best striker of the last 10-15 years, Thierry Henry, with 51 goals in 123 international caps, scored in three different Euro tournaments. Three in the triumphant Euro 2000 campaign, two in 2004 and one in the very disappointing 2008 tournament.
Back to the Dutch, and two players who really don’t like each other. Patrick Kluivert will probably look back at his career and feel he missed out on some greater glory. And it’s true, the man didn’t live up to his potential, despite 40 goals for the national team, more than anyone else. He is one of only eight players to score a Euro hat trick (2000 against Yugoslavia). He led the tournament’s scoring charts with 5 goals along with Savo Milosevic.
Ruud van Nistelrooy, now with Malaga, has 35 goals for The Netherlands. He has goals in two different Euro tournaments, scoring four in 2004 and two more in 2008.
7 Goals – Alan Shearer (England)
The Premier League’s all time leading goal scorer, Alan Shearer scored his goals in two tournaments. Five in 1996, including a brace in that famous 4-1 win over the Netherlands, and two more in the disappointing 2000 Euro. Shearer still managed to score the only goal in 1-0 win over Germany, always a nice memory for him and English fans.
9 Goals – Michel Platini (France)
The only player in the history of the tournament with two hat tricks to his name, both of them coming in Euro 1984, when Platini led France to its only international success, until Zidane and the golden generation came along.
About to be the strongest figure in the world of football, Platini is arguably the greatest European player of all time, along with Cruyff, or maybe just under him. When you don’t win a World Cup, the debates seem to forget about you.