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Oldest and Youngest Players in Euros History: A Tale of Experience and Youth



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Experience goes a long way at the Euros, and these stars had it in abundance when they represented their respective countries on Europe’s biggest stage.

From veteran goalkeepers to a midfielder whose career spanned two decades, these are the oldest players ever to play at the European Championship. A certain Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to make it onto the list by captaining at ; here’s the company he’s set to be keeping.

‘s most-capped player with 125 appearances to his name, Peter Shilton represented the Three Lions at two European Championships.

The last of those was in 1988 – where Bobby Robson’s side crashed out at the group stage without getting a single point, conceding seven goals in the process. Oops.

Maarten Stekelenburg hadn’t been capped by his country for almost five years when he made Frank de Boer’s Euro 2020 squad.

And with regular custodian Jasper Cillessen ruled out of the tournament due to Covid, Stekelenburg became the number one once more.

One of ‘s all-time greats, Morten Olsen became the oldest player in European Championship history when he featured at the 1988 tournament.

Olsen called time on his international career after those finals despite sitting on 99 caps – but he was tempted out of retirement 10 months later and brought up a century of appearances, finishing on 102.

Lothar Matthaus’ epic international career began at Euro 1980 – which he won – and ended at Euro 2000 – where he won his 150th and final cap for .

The legendary former and midfielder – who captained his country to victory at the 1990 World Cup – remains the oldest outfield player ever to feature at the European Championship.

Instantly recognisable for the grey trackie bottoms he wore for almost every match, Gabor Kiraly is the only player over the age of 40 ever to appear at the Euros.

The ex- goalkeeper was ‘s first-choice goalkeeper at Euro 2016, featuring in all four of their games as they reached the last 16.

Throughout history, major tournaments have often provided the stage for precocious young talents to announce themselves to the world – and the Euros are no different.

These players are the very youngest ever to appear at the European Championship, with some yet to have even celebrated their 18th birthday when doing so.

could well see this list change – indeed, Spain wonderkid Lamine Yamal, who doesn’t turn 17 until the day before the final, will instantly take top spot if he features out in Germany – but here’s the current top five…

Capped by England up to U21 level, Jamal Musiala opted to represent , the country of his birth, in senior international football.

The prodigy made his debut for the three-time European champions in a World Cup qualifier against Iceland in March 2021 and kept his place in the squad for Euro 2020 – where he came off the bench to set up Leon Goretzka’s late equaliser against , the goal which secured the Germans’ place in the last 16.

One of ‘s greatest players of all time, Enzo Scifo earned 84 caps for his country, the first of them coming in a friendly against Hungary ahead of Euro 1984.

At the finals themselves, the attacking midfielder burst onto the major tournament scene by starting and playing a key role in his nation’s 2-0 victory over Yugoslavia in their opening game.

Former wing-back Jetro Willems was uncapped when boss Bert van Marwijk named him in his squad for Euro 2012.

Having made his senior debut for the Oranje in a pre-tournament friendly against Bulgaria, Willems started all three group games at the finals but couldn’t help prevent his country from suffering an early exit.

While Theo Walcott holds the record for the youngest player to go to a major tournament with , Jude Bellingham is the youngest to actually play in one.

Already established as one of the top teenage talents in world football, the midfielder – then of – made three substitute appearances as Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions reached the final of Euro 2020.

Just six days after Bellingham had become the youngest Euros player of all time, Kacper Kozlowski broke the record.

The midfielder came off the bench in ‘s group clashes with Spain and Sweden – but he’s now gone almost three years without winning cap.

At Euro 1964, the second edition of the European Championship, won their first major trophy, beating the Soviet Union 2-1 in the final.

In goal was 21-year-old Athletic Bilbao shot-stopper Jose Angel Iribar – who went on to earn 49 caps for La Roja overall.

Rachel Adams

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