The following is a book excerpt from The Euro 2020-21 Book:
Stay’s Blast From the Past Super Team
Now this was very tricky. How can you pick a starting 11 from all past Euros? It’s impossible. You’re inevitably going to leave someone out, well, multiple people in fact. There were so many players to consider but I had to do it. I had to come up with 11. But, I made a simple stipulation. Members of this blast from the past super team had to be part of a Euro championship team. Each player was evaluated based on how they performed in both Euro tournament matches and club competitions. After all, players are chosen for national teams based on how they perform at the club level. Here they are:
Marco van Basten Gerd Müller Cristiano Ronaldo
Paul Breitner Franz Beckenbauer Frank Rijkaard Sergio Ramos
There are so many other players that come to mind, ones that theoretically could and should be in this lineup, such as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Giresse, Tigana, Ruud Gullit, Ronald Koeman, Henry, Iniesta, and, well, maybe just everyone from Spain’s 2008 and 2012 championships. How can you go wrong there? You can’t, that’s the thing.
As far as this lineup is concerned, there is not much to say. However, one position that was difficult for me was Gerd Müller’s. This was only because I immediately thought about choosing David Villa or Henry instead for chemistry’s sake. Gerd Müller is a great one, but in the flow of the game, I might prefer the gamesmanship and on-the-ball savviness of Villa or Henry. Having said that, how can you go wrong with Gerd? The answer is: You can’t. He was a great finisher with an uncanny ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Furthermore, considering Henry’s multi-talented ability, he could very well be one of the starting midfielders. During his time with Arsenal, he took over the field and really showed what he could do with the ball. However, there are plenty of other midfielders to choose from, some of which were mentioned (Iniesta in particular). Gullit, in all his brilliance, could theoretically have any team built around him and things would still fall in line. Lastly, as far as goalies go, you can take your pick. We could go back to Lev Yashin (the Soviet keeper for the 1960 championship side). There is also Harald Schumacher of West Germany. Then you have Iker Casillas from Spain, along with many others. But, really, how can you not have Dino Zoff? The great Dino Zoff. There’s something about an Italian goalie—it just seems right.
Generally speaking, these players were very hard to select. Let’s put it this way: Imagine if Dino Zoff, Walter Zenga, and Gianluigi Buffon were all the same age and they all showed up to the same tryout. How would you choose? It’s unfair that two of those players would end up sitting on the bench. And that’s the essence of a list like this.
When it’s all said and done, it’s a tough list to compile because there are so many options and combinations. It is almost unfair to suggest such a list in the first place. However, one had to be compiled and this one is very good. It is a great starting 11, one that has the capacity to astound any audience at any time. And, should any team ever face this group...I truly pity them.
This leads to the next team. Considering there are so many quality players to choose from, I had to put together a Blast from the Past B Team.
Stay’s Blast From the Past B Team
David Villa Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Nani Marcel Desailly Puyol Tigana
I know what you’re thinking. Why would Nani be a defender? Here’s the thing: Attacking players like Nani make great defenders. For starters, he knows all the dribbling moves so there is no chance of fooling him. Secondly, he is quick and fast like nobody’s business. Lastly, he’d make a great attacking threat down the wing. If he didn’t work out, we would bench him. Get over it. Same goes for Tigana. He was more of a midfielder, but, given his talent level, how can you resist having him on the team? Look, we could have gone back to 1968—when defenders stood around like cones—and chosen an Italian player. A safe steady Italian, the kind that played for Inter Milan for 5 million years. The kind that drank espressos at the nearby coffee bar with locals every morning before practice. Maybe Giacinto Facchetti. Instead, I chose to go off the grid and take a chance with Nani and Tigana. So there we have our B Team, and what a team it is.
You have Desailly and Puyol in the middle as all-out defensive stoppers. Behind them, backing with brilliant technical passing, is the one-and-only Ronald Koeman. Henry and Iniesta would work off of the brilliance of Ruud Gullit, and up top you have David Villa and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge acting as brilliant set-up players, giving Iniesta, Henry, Nani, and Tigana a vast amount of opportunities to work with.
This might be the “B Team” but realistically, it’s an “A Team” in every sense of the word.