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22 June 2024

Ronaldo and Platini Among the Greatest Stars in European Championship History

Published
By E247

The UEFA European Championship has always been a stage for the brightest stars of football in Europe, who have etched their names in the tournament’s illustrious history since it first began 64 years ago. As we approach the opening of Euro 2024 in Germany, the 16 previous editions have seen numerous records set by football legends, notably by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and France's Michel Platini.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Dominance

Cristiano Ronaldo holds a lion’s share of records in the European Championship. He is the all-time top scorer in the tournament's history with 14 goals. Ronaldo scored two goals in Euro 2004, one in 2008, three in 2012 and 2016, and five goals in Euro 2020. Additionally, he is the highest scorer in the history of the qualification matches with 41 goals, making him the top scorer in both the finals and qualifications with a combined total of 55 goals.

Ronaldo has also participated in five European Championship editions, starting from Euro 2004 in Portugal to Euro 2020, making him the player with the most appearances in the tournament's history. He played 25 matches, the most by any player, and accumulated the highest number of minutes played at 2153. Ronaldo has also achieved the most victories in the tournament's history with 12 wins and wore the captain’s armband more times than any other player, leading his team in 16 matches.

Notably, Ronaldo scored at least one goal in each of the five editions he participated in, making him the only player to do so. He is also the only player to have scored at least two goals in four editions and at least three goals in three editions. Ronaldo remains the only player to have scored in 10 different matches in the tournament and scored a brace in four matches.

Ronaldo also leads the list of players who have scored the most goals from penalty kicks, including shootouts, with three successful penalties.

Michel Platini's Legacy

Michel Platini holds significant records in the history of the European Championship. He is the player with the most goals in a single tournament, scoring nine goals in the 1984 edition, which was held in France and led the French team to their first title. Platini is also the only player to have scored two hat-tricks in the European Championship, against Belgium and Yugoslavia in Euro 1984. At the age of 28 years and 364 days, he became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in the tournament.

Six other players have scored hat-tricks in the tournament's history, including Germany's Dieter Müller (1976), Klaus Allofs (1980), Marco van Basten (1988), Patrick Kluivert (2000), Portugal's Sergio Conceição (2000), and Spain's David Villa (2008).

Platini also scored the fastest hat-trick in European Championship history, achieving it in 18 minutes during a match between France and Yugoslavia 40 years ago. He remains the only player to have scored at least one goal in five consecutive matches in the tournament.

Other Notable Records

The European Championship has been a stage for many other records. Germany's Rainer Bonhof is the only player to have played in three consecutive finals, making him the player with the most medals in the tournament. Bonhof won titles in 1972 and 1980 with West Germany, defeating the Soviet Union and Belgium, respectively, in the finals, but settled for runner-up in 1976 after a penalty shootout loss to Czechoslovakia.

Three players have scored two goals in a European Championship final: Germany's Gerd Müller (1972), Horst Hrubesch (1980), and Oliver Bierhoff (1996). Poland's Kacper Kozłowski became the youngest player to participate in a European Championship match at 17 years and 246 days, playing against Spain in Euro 2020. Hungary's Gábor Király is the oldest player to have appeared in the tournament, playing against Belgium in Euro 2016 at 40 years and 86 days.

Germany's Jens Lehmann is the oldest player to have played in a European Championship final, participating against Spain in Euro 2008 at 38 years and 232 days. Renato Sanches of Portugal is the youngest to play in a final, appearing against France in Euro 2016 at 18 years and 327 days. Switzerland's Johan Vonlanthen is the youngest goal scorer in the tournament, scoring against France in Euro 2004 at 18 years and 141 days. Italy's Pietro Anastasi is the youngest player to score in a final, achieving this against Yugoslavia in Euro 1968 at 20 years and 64 days.

Austria's Ivica Vastić is the oldest goal scorer in European Championship history, netting against Poland in Euro 2008 at 38 years and 257 days. Italy's Leonardo Bonucci is the oldest player to score in a final, scoring against England in Euro 2020 at 34 years and 71 days.