There is a tendency to use major international tournaments as a platform for introducing new talent to a wider audience. However, at Euro 2016 there will be a few legendary players who may well be making their final appearance for their countries.
None of these players require any introduction, but all are nearing the end of their respective international careers. Football fans should enjoy the chance to watch them as they try to finish their international career in style.
When it comes to Zlatan, you can never rule anything out. However, at 34-years-old, this is almost certain to be his last European Championships. Given that Sweden are far from guaranteed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018, this may be the last chance to see the maverick striker represent his country at the highest level.
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Ibrahimovic's powers show no sign of fading, and he remains Sweden’s key player. He is bidding to score in his fourth consecutive European Championships - a remarkable achievement in itself. There won’t be many who doubt that Zlatan will do just this, least of all the great man himself.
The most capped player in Italy’s history, Gianluigi Buffon already holds 157 caps for his country. He has stated that he plans to retire after the 2018 World Cup, but it remains to be seen whether he will manage to retain his place in the team by the time the tournament in Russia arrives - when he will be 40-years-old.
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Considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper of all time, Buffon will be hoping to add another chapter to his already incredible career. Italy are certainly one of the contenders to triumph in the tournament, and in Buffon, they have a goalkeeper of the highest quality. He already owns a World Cup winner’s medal from 2006, and it would be a fitting end to a glittering career if he was to help Italy to the Euro 2016 title.
His France legend status may have been tainted by the fallout from the infamous player protest at the World Cup in 2010, but the 35-year-old left-back remains one of the greatest French players of his generation.
A spectacular club career with Manchester United, Monaco and Juventus have ensured that he has no shortage of winner’s medals in his trophy cabinet. However, a major international honour is the one thing missing from his CV. A victory in his homeland this summer would go a long way to helping cement his place as a true legend of the game.
In his club career, it is arguable whether Robbie Keane has fully lived up to some of the transfer fees that have been paid for him over the years. In his international career, however, there is no question that Keane is worthy of legendary status.
Ireland’s all-time leading goalscorer, Keane boasts 67 goals in 143 caps. He was a doubt for the Irish squad due to injury, but now that his presence has been confirmed, he will be hoping to add to that tally. If he can inspire Ireland to qualify from the group stages, then his popularity in his home country will surge to stratospheric levels.
Iceland’s most famous footballer retired from international football in November 2013, only to make a return to the squad in 2015. At the grand old age of 37-years-old, Eider Gudjohnson may still have a part to play in continuing the fairytale of Iceland’s first-ever appearance at a major tournament.
One of the few players to count both Bolton Wanderers and Barcelona on their CV, Gudjohnson will be delighted to get an opportunity that he must have thought had passed him by. Having been drawn in a relatively kind group alongside Hungary, Austria and Portugal, Iceland and Gudjohnson will be hopeful of taking the dream one step further. It would be a fitting way to end an outstanding career.
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