Don’t let the title fool you. This list basically contains the worst of the best since all 15 of these soccer players were good enough to be selected to their national squads for the European Championships. However, none of them really stood out during the tournaments and their contributions were minimal at best. This isn’t to say they weren’t good players or didn’t deserve to be there, but they could be considered lucky to go home with medals for their efforts. We’ve tried to even things out here by naming at least one player from each of the 14 winning squads.
If we went with any 15 players we could possibly list most of the 2004 Greece side which upset hosts Portugal 1-0 in the 2004 tournament. In addition, each of these players had to play at least once during the Euro tournament or we could just list 15 players who never set foot on the pitch. However, in the case of Spanish goaltender Pepe Reina, he didn’t play in 2012, but did play in the 2008 event. Some of these players had decent, but not great international careers, while others may have stood out for their domestic clubs, but couldn’t replicate that form for their countries.
The European Championships were introduced as the European Nations Cup by UEFA in 1960 with the name being changed in 1968. They’re held every four years in even-numbered years to alternate with the World Cup. Each tournament from 1960 to 1976 consisted of just four teams and it was doubled to eight in 1980. It doubled again to 16 in 1996 and this year’s event in France will be the first to feature 24 nations. With all that information out of the way, let's dive into the worst players to win the Euro Cup!
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15 Anatoly Krutikov - USSR
The very first European Championships were held in France in 1960 with the USSR slipping past Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final after extra time. The winners played just 210 minutes to earn the title and defender Anatoliy Krutikov appeared in all of them. He wasn’t considered a crucial member of the squad though and was chosen for the USSR national team just nine times during his career over an 11-year span. This was evident when he was also selected for the 1964 Euros, but didn’t play a single minute. Krutikov spent his career from 1952 to 1969 with a trio of teams in Moscow and entered management six years after retiring.
14 Sandro Salvadore - Italy
The 1968 European Championships took place in Italy with the host nation drawing Yugoslavia 1-1 in the final. There were no shootouts back then, so the match was replayed with the Italians emerging with a 2-0 victory. Defender Sandro Salvadore put in a 90-minute shift during the event and won himself a medal. Salvadore played 403 club matches with strong AC Milan and Juventus sides and chipped in with 16 goals. His international career lasted a decade from 1960 to 1970, but he appeared in just 36 games without a goal in those contests. The defender was good enough to play a total of five World Cup contests, but wasn’t chosen for the 1970 squad after scoring a pair of own goals in a 2-2 draw with Spain a few months before the team was announced. In fact, it was the last time he played for Italy.
13 Franck Leboeuf - France
French defender Franck Leboeuf scored 89 goals in 480 career games in England, France and Qatar, but quite a few of them came on penalty kicks. He managed just four in his 50 caps with France, but won a medal at the Euro 2000 event in Holland and Belgium by playing a grand total of 90 minutes. He was also used for just 106 minutes two years later at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Leboeuf was known for his long-ball passing as well as his borderline dirty play as he was sent off the pitch seven times with red cards during his career. The former Chelsea player is now enjoying an acting career.
12 Carlos Lapetra - Spain
The Euros were held in Spain in 1964 and the host country took advantage of playing at home by edging the USSR 2-1 in the championship match. Forward Carlos Lapetra was part of the 11-man squad named for the final, but is considered by most as the weakest link. He played pro from 1958 to 1969 with 10 of his 11 seasons at Zarazoga in his hometown. He netted 47 club goals in 236 matches, but struggled while playing for Spain. He made just 13 international appearances with a lone goal to his name, but did manage to play 90 minutes in the 1966 World Cup. Lapetra retired at the age of 30 when his contract wasn’t renewed and he unfortunately passed away from cancer 27 years later.
11 Jaroslav Pollak - Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia won its only European Championship in Yugoslavia back in 1976 by beating West Germany 5-3 in a penalty shootout following their 2-2 draw in extra time. There were just four teams in this tournament and Jaroslav Pollak didn’t do his side any favours by receiving a red card in the event. This limited his playing time to just 59 minutes. In total, the midfielder played 49 times for his national side with one goal to his name. He played from 1965 to 1988 in his homeland and Austria and scored a goal once in a blue moon. Pollak somehow made the squads for the 1970 World Cup and Euro 1980 as well, but didn’t set foot on the pitch in 1980 and played 90 minutes a decade earlier. Obviously, he wasn’t somebody the manager felt was an integral part of his squad.
10 Jurgen Grabowski - Germany
Belgium hosted the four-team European Championships in 1972 when West Germany blanked the USSR 3-0 in the final. Forward Jurgen Grabowski was a member of the winning squad, but played just 32 minutes as a substitute. His international career lasted 44 games, but he could muster only five goals in them. This was a far cry from the 109 goals he tallied in 441 club games with Eintracht Frankfurt from 1965 to 1980. In fact, Grabowski was lucky enough to be included in the 1966, 1970 and 1974 World Cup sides, but didn’t play a minute in 1966.
9 Marco Bode - Germany
Germany managed to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in the Euro 1996 final in England and midfielder Marco Bode chipped in with 85 minutes worth of playing time in three appearances as a sub. He spent his entire career with Werder Bremen between 1988 and 2002 and scored 131 goals in 484 club matches. He added nine goals in 40 games for Germany between 1995 and 2002, but was an unspectacular player who often went unnoticed. He was clean though, as he was booked just 13 times during his career in close to 500 games and was never sent off.
8 Yvon Le Roux - France
France hosted Euro 1984 and came away with the championship by shutting out Spain 2-0 in the final. Defender Yvon Le Roux managed to stay on the pitch for 180 minutes, but hurt his side by receiving a red card in the event. He played 28 games for his country with one goal to his name. Le Roux somehow made the 1986 World Cup squad as well, but played just 55 minutes of the tournament in Mexico before being substituted. His entire career was spent in France between 1977 and 1990 where he stayed after retirement to enter management.
7 Pepe Reina - Spain
Goaltender Pepe Reina has carved out a pretty good club career for himself with Barcelona, Liverpool, Villarreal and Napoli, but the same can’t be said for his international career. He played one game at the Euro 2008 tournament when Spain edged Germany 1-0 in Austria and Switzerland and remained on the bench four years later in Poland and Ukraine where Spain downed Italy 4-0 in the final. Reina’s too inconsistent to be Spain’s number one, as he’ll let in a howler right after making a great save and that’s why he’s played just 33 contests for his homeland since 2005. He's also had to deal with incredible competition, as he's been behind Iker Casillas for most of his career.
6 Johan Micoud - France
Johan Micoud somehow made it to the French squad that played in the 2000 Euros and 2002 World Cup. The attacking midfielder was fortunate enough to win the 2000 tournament in Belgium and Holland when France edged Italy 2-1. Micoud played just one game in the event for his medal and suited up only 17 times from 1999 to 2004 during his international career, with one goal to his name. He enjoyed a better club career in France, Italy and Germany though, with 119 goals in 557 games.
5 Vassilis Lakis - Greece
Greek winger Vassilis Lakis played just 47 as a minutes as a substitute at Euro 2004 in Portugal when Greece edged the hosts 1-0 in the final. He had an inconsistent career, mainly in Greece, with an unproductive stint in the English Premier League with Crystal Palace, where he signed as a free agent with the London-based club after winning the Euros. He lasted just 18 games though after missing a sitter from six yards out against Arsenal in a tie game and being sent off in a match against Manchester United. To make matters worse, Palace was then relegated and Lakis headed back to Greece, where he scored three goals in 35 internationals.
4 Torben Frank - Denmark
Denmark was a last-minute addition to the Euro 1992 tournament in Sweden after the former nation of Yugoslavia was booted out due to warfare in the country. The Danes took full advantage of their opportunity by beating Germany 2-0 in the final. Striker Torben Frank saw 128 minutes of total playing time for the winners as he started one match and picked up a yellow card. However, Frank and the national team weren’t a good fit and he played just five times for his homeland. In fact, his club career was spent entirely in Denmark and consisted of just over 200 appearances from 1986 to 1998. He scored about 90 goals though, but in a pretty weak league.
3 Mirko Votava - Germany
West Germany edged Belgium 2-1 at the Euro 1980 tournament in Italy with Czechoslovakian-born midfielder Mirko Votava suiting up for the winners. Votava played just 44 minutes of the tournament as a one-game substitute and in fact played just five games in total for the national squad. However, he did manage to appear in close to 900 club contests with Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid and Oldenburg between 1974 and 1998 and scored just 62 times. He received his fair share of yellow cards, but was never sent off in all those games. Votava played until he was 41, but he may have made a mistake by choosing to represent West Germany rather than Czechoslovakia as his international career was over in a flash.
2 Caspar Memering - Germany
West German midfielder Caspar Memering was also a member of the 1980 side that downed Belgium 2-1 back in 1980 in Italy, but didn’t contribute too much to the tournament by playing just 90 minutes. Memering played on some decent club teams in Hamburg, Bordeaux, and Schalke from 1971 to 1986, but his international career consisted of no more than three goalless games. However, he sure made the most out of that trio of performances by being awarded with a European Championship medal for his efforts. Memering was credited with 51 goals in 438 career club matches.
1 Wilbert Suvrijn - Holland
Wilbert Suvrijn’s international career with Holland consisted of just nine games in total. The defender/midfielder was definitely at the right place at the right time in 1988 though when the Dutch downed the USSR 2-0 at the European Championships in West Germany. Suvrijn came on as a substitute for just over three minutes in the entire tournament and went home with a shiny new medal. His club career was played in Holland and France and consisted of 14 goals in 341 matches. Suvrijn was just 30 years old when he retired to become a player agent.
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