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Ronaldo to Griezmann: Top Scorers in the History of European Championships

Europe has long displaced South America as the home of the best football talents in the world – a fact reflected in the quality of the teams that take part in the European Championships. Barring Lionel Messi, most of the current generation of international superstars are from European countries, making the tournament one of the most enticing competitions in the football calendar.  

The competition has made legends out of greats, and here we look at five top scorers who have made their mark on the prestigious tournament:

 

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC – 6

The Swedish captain and legend has been instrumental to his team’s fortunes at the European stage, so much that coach Janne Andersson had to fly to Milan to convince him to return to the national team. While a knee injury forced him to miss the upcoming tournament, there is no denying that the AC Milan star remains his country’s lead striker. 

Ibrahimovic started his goal count at the Euros all the way back in 2004, with a penalty against Bulgaria. His equaliser against Italy in 2004 and an opener against Greece in the 2008 edition of the tournament earned him Man of the Match awards. He added another goal to his tally in a 2-1 loss against Spain. Captaining his side in the 2012 European Championships, Ibrahimovic added another two goals to his record, earning an entry into the Team of the Tournament despite the team failing to advance to the knockout stages. 

Despite being a phenomenal player in the domestic tournaments, Ibrahimovic failed to keep up the spark at the international stage, scoring no goals in Euro 2016 and retiring after the tournament. 

 

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN – 6

There is no exaggeration in saying that France now produce the best footballers across the world – from Kylian Mbappe to Champions League superstar N’Golo Kante, the French have a plethora of talent to pick from for the Euros. Antoine Griezmann, the Barcelona striker who remains the first-choice striker for the team, epitomises the talent pool that the French have been able to produce in the past few years that propelled them to win the World Cup.

Griezmann was key to France’s successful run in the 2016 edition of the European Championships, scoring six goals and making two assists in seven appearances, finishing as France’s top scorer. He was named player of the tournament for his performance which took his team to the final. His recent form in the international friendlies, and a long career ahead might give him the opportunity he needs to overtake Cristiano Ronaldo as the top scorer in Euros, as early as the upcoming tournament.

 

ALAN SHEARER – 7

Alan Shearer is considered one of the greatest footballers from England, owing to his record 283 goals in the Premier League, the highest for any player in the history of the league. At the international stage, Shearer was instrumental in England’s run to the semifinals in the 1996 edition of the European Championships, scoring five goals in the tournament. For his performance, he was named to the Team of the Tournament apart from winning the Euro Golden Boot. 

Shearer was appointed captain for the English team in time for the World Cup in 1998 and he continued to lead the team into the Euros. He managed to score two goals, one against Germany and another in a 3-2 loss to Romania which kicked England out of the tournament and ended his career. 

 

MICHAEL PLATINI – 9

Another French legend, Michael Platini had the opportunity to take part in just one European Championship – the 1984 edition in which he scored nine goals for Les Blues as they went on to win the championship. The captain’s record in the tournament is doubly impressive given the fact that he played just five games, giving him a goal average of 1.8, the highest for any player in the Euros. 

After scoring a winner against Denmark, Platini scored a perfect hat-trick against Belgium to lead France to the top of the group. His last-minute goal against Portugal which gave Les Blues the 3-2 win in extra time is a memorable event that is forever etched in the memories of French fans. An early opener against Spain in the final gave the momentum the team needed through the game to win the championship, tallying a record nine goals that took three decades to reach.

 

CRISTIANO RONALDO – 9

It is no surprise that the greatest player from Europe to ever play the game leads the list of top scorers of the European Championships. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored nine goals for the Selecao in 21 appearances across four different tournaments. 

Ronaldo’s first Euro appearance was in 2004 as a teenager, where he scored two goals for the team including a crucial goal against the Netherlands in the semifinal. Ronaldo assumed the captaincy of the team before the next edition of the tournament, but he failed to live up to expectations, scoring just one goal as Portugal were eliminated in the quarterfinals. The next edition of the tournament saw Portugal reach the semis with Ronaldo being named Man of the Match twice. Ronaldo’s decision to wait for the fifth slot in the penalty shootout led to a controversial elimination for the team in the semifinals.

Perhaps to compensate for the blunder, Ronaldo ran rampant in the 2016 edition of the tournament, leading his team to win the European Championships and levelling Platini’s record of nine goals. With a lengthy career that continues to defy ageing, Ronaldo still has time to beat Platini’s record and etch his name into European history. With Portugal being one of the favourites to win the tournament this year, Ronaldo will look to add to his tally and extend his record as the top scorer in the European Championships. The Juventus star was in superb form this season – he was Serie A’s top scorer for the season, winning the Capocannoniere scoring 29 goals for the Bianconeri.

 

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