Euro 2020 Could See Many Legends End Their European Championship Career

Cristiano Ronaldo

By the time Euro 2024 comes around Cristiano Ronaldo will be 39 years old, so this summer’s tournament is likely to be his last. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner will be looking to become the stand-alone all-time top scorer in European Championships (he is currently tied with Michel Platini on nine), as well as retaining the trophy with Portugal.

The current crop of Portuguese talent is absolutely stacked, so the reigning champions may be in a better position to win the Euros than they were five years ago and with their leading goal scorer potentially playing in his final tournament on the continent, he will be hoping to go out in style.

Manuel Neuer

Arguably the best of his generation, Manuel Neuer redefined what it meant to be a goalkeeper, due to his largely unmatched ability to play with his feet as well as his hands. The Bayern keeper is the only player in the latest Germany squad who started in their World Cup final win over Argentina in 2014, so his longevity should be credited.

Since making his international debut 12 years ago, Neuer has made 96 appearances for Die Mannschaft, making him an all-time great and arguably their greatest ever alongside keepers like Oliver Kahn. If this is to be the 34-year-old's final international tournament, then he will be keen to pick up the one trophy that has alluded him.

Sergio Ramos

As a key part of the only side to retain the European Championship, Sergio Ramos has enjoyed a great deal of success on the international stage. Spain may not be the unstoppable force that they were between 2008-12, but they still boast a very impressive squad that is now introducing a new wave of youth, such as Manchester City’s Ferran Torres and Barcelona’s Ansu Fati.

Ramos is now 34 years old, so this is expected to be his last Euros, but with a legacy that includes a World Cup, two European Championships, captaining his country for a while, and being the record appearance holder, the Real Madrid man will go down as a legend for Spanish football and arguably the best defender of the modern era.

Luka Modric

After finishing as runner-up at the 2018 World Cup, Croatia impressed and arguably overachieved three years ago. However, that squad was filled with talent, with midfielder Luka Modric being the cream of the crop. Modric's efforts were rewarded with a Ballon d’Or that year, but with the Real Madrid man now 35-years-old, this may be his final international tournament.

Croatia’s captain may play at next year’s World Cup in Qatar, but it is expected that Euro 2020 will be his fourth and final.

Robert Lewandowski

Despite now being 32 years old, Robert Lewandowski is playing the best football of his career at the moment and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Polish striker has arguably been the best player in the world for the last two years now and has scored 36 goals in just 27 league appearances this campaign.

Lewandowski will be hoping to take this red-hot form into the Euros this summer, where his side will take on Spain, Slovakia and Sweden in the group stage. In three years time, the Bayern striker may still be playing on the international stage, but as we have seen in the past, there is the possibility that he retires from Poland duty in order to prolong his club career, meaning Euro 2020 could be his last.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Like a fine wine, Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems to be getting better with age, as he is still banging them in at the age of 39. His recent inclusion in the Sweden squad is his first in five years, after initially retiring after Euro 2016.

However, his recent form for AC Milan has been too impressive to ignore and the national team manager Janne Andersson was able to talk their record goalscorer into reversing his decision. Despite still playing at a very high level now, you would imagine that by Euro 2024, at the age of 42, Zlatan will not be a part of the squad.

But with Ibrahimovic, you cannot rule anything out, although considering he's already retired once, he may well do so again immediately after the tournament.

Olivier Giroud

Perhaps one of the most underrated strikers of his generation, Olivier Giroud will finish his career as a legend for French football, as he chases Thierry Henry’s all-time top scorer record. Giroud has scored 44 times in 105 appearances for the national team, just seven behind Henry, with both men also having a World Cup trophy to boast.

The Chelsea striker's lack of game time this season may not bode well for his chances of starting at this summer's European Championships, but he will most likely be a part of the squad, as he has been for the best part of a decade now.

At 34 and suffering from reduced minutes on the pitch, this will most likely be Giroud’s final tournament, so he will be looking to make it a successful send-off for Les Bleus. It could also be his final season at Chelsea, with a move back to France a likely option.

By Jack Meenan


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