From Greece winning the Euros in 2004 to Switzerland knocking out the World Champions France in the current edition, the UEFA European Championship has and will always be the epitome of modern football. With its growth in India, here is a list of the former ISL players who have won the Euros.
5) Carlos Marchena
Carlos Marchena Lopez won the Euros with Spain in 2008, playing a pivotal role at the heart of the defence, along with Carles Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Joan Capdevila forming an indispensable defensive unit in front of their captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The Spaniard featured in 5 of the 6 games that Spain played in the tournament. Marchena and Puyol were outstanding for La Roja’s throughout the tournament. They conceded only 2 goals in the 5 matches they both started, earning them a place in the UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament. He was also part of the Spanish squad, which lifted the World Cup in 2010.
Marchena’s journey to winning the Euros and lifting the World Cup has been nothing short of a fairytale story, which saw him start at the bottom and progressively improve over time, and end with him retiring from the National side, one year after winning the biggest trophy in World football (FIFA World Cup). He started his career with his hometown club Sevilla FC in 1997, then had to move to Portuguese side Benfica for one season in 2000, when Sevilla was relegated, then returning to Spain, where he established himself as one of the best central defenders in the country, earning him a call-up for the 2004 UEFA Euro’s, which was a disappointing tournament for Spain. But in the 2008 Euro’s he was at the centre of things for Spain.
After making more than 500 club appearances, he decided to come to India in 2015 and play in the Indian Super League (ISL) for Kerala Blasters. Moving forward, he decided to hang his boots as a player and start his managerial career.
4) Robert Pires
In his coaching career and managing Spanish lower-league side Pena Deportiva, Pires was part of the Arsenal coaching staff after retiring as a professional footballer with Indian Super League outfit FC Goa in 2015. A Gunner through and through, he played some of the best football of his glorious career for the London club Arsenal. The winger was part of the French squad that won the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and signed for the North London club fresh after winning the Euro’s with the national side in 2000. It was during that period when the French winger won significant trophies with both country and club. In his second season with Arsenal, he won the Premier League (2001-02), was included in the PFA Team of the Year, and also won the FWA Footballer of the Year.
The awards did not end there. He was again part of the PFA Team of the Year for the 2002-03 and the 2003-04 seasons. He played a significant role in the first-ever Golden Premier League title-winning season with Arsenal in the 2003-04 campaign. They went the entire season without losing a single game. He was also pivotal for France when they won the World Cup in 1998 and the Euro’s in 2000 and was part of the squad which lifted the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003. He had last played for Aston Villa in 2011 and had thought of hanging up his boots. But after seeing the development of football in India and the Indian Super League’s (ISL) inception in 2014, Pires decided to come back from retirement and signed for FC Goa. After one season, he finally made up his mind to stop playing And start his managerial career.