Despite Spain's star-studded squad winning their third major competition in a row, it was Italy's Andrea Pirlo who stole the show at the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine. A year after leaving AC Milan in controversial fashion, the Juventus midfielder captivated fans with his controlling performances at the base of Cesare Prandelli's midfield in Italy's run to the final.
A standout performance was against Roy Hodgson's England team in the quarterfinals, where Pirlo dominated throughout, despite the England boss trying to man-mark the mercurial midfielder out of the game. The 33-year-old racked up extraordinary statistics during the game, as Pirlo made 131 passes and ran 11.8km, unsurprisingly the most of anyone on the pitch in what was described as an 0-0 "hammering" to the Italians.
Arguably the most iconic moment of the 2012 Championships was during the penalty shootout, though where Pirlo faced off against a confident Joe Hart who tried his utmost to put the seasoned midfielder off with facial gestures. As cool as Pirlo is, no one could have predicted the Italian legend to produce a panenka penalty on such a stage, such was his confidence, the delivery was perfect.
Despite beating England and then Germany, The Italians lost in the final of the competition against Spain. Unfortunately, Pirlo missed out on the Player of the Tournament to Andres Iniesta.