The Euro 2020 is a prime example of a mix between some young blood with so much to prove, as well as well-known and experienced magicians of the game. The UEFA European Championship 2020 would certainly serve as a window to highlight the value and focus for the next generation of players around Europe.
Furthermore, it is a platform where the finest may make their mark and lead their country to triumph. Several top names also represent their country in this renowned competition. These athletes have astounded everyone with their longevity and continue to play important roles in their clubs. They've become veterans, yet their worth and devotion to the team remain undeniable.
One of them is Macedonia hero Goran Pandev, who will play his final international game on Monday, against the Netherlands. "This is my last game for the national team, I think it is the right moment to say goodbye. I hope these guys, this generation, goes on to qualify for the World Cup. "They bring a lot of joy to the Macedonian people because they are quality players who play for good teams and I think they deserve to make it to the World Cup," he said in a press conference.
Four other oldest players at UEFA European Championship 2020
Genoa player Goran Pandev had entered Euro 2020 as the tournament's oldest forward. The true leader of the Macedonia national team is still vital even at the age of 37, having played a key part in their Euro 2020 Qualifications campaign. It was him who scored the game-winning goal to seal the Lynxes' participation at the UEFA European Championship 2020.
This is not the first time Pandev has stated that he has played his final game for his national team. When the current coach, Igor Angelovski took over in 2015, one of his first moves was to bring Goran out of international retirement. It has all worked out incredibly well, considering the fact that Pandev has become the second-oldest player in the European Championship history thanks to his strike against Austria in Matchday 1.
The record is kept by Ivica Vastic. The former Austria international netted against Poland in Euro 2008 at the age of 38. Earlier in March, Pandec also scored the first goal for Macedonia in the 2-1 victory over Germany, the Germans' first World Cup Qualifiers defeat after 20 years. On July 27, the former Inter treble-winner will turn 38, and he can also boast of playing for other clubs Lazio, Napoli, and Galatasaray in his career. Let's take a look at the four other oldest players to appear at the Euro 2020.
1. Pepe (Portugal)
Pepe, who was born in February 1983, is the oldest player on the team going into the competition. Portugal have placed its trust in the experienced defender, now 38-years-old. He has been a crucial component in the Selecao since 2008, and he was important in the country's 2016 Euro and 2019 UEFA Nations League titles. Pepe has already won 114 caps for the Portuguese and will be looking to add to his total.
2. Maarten Stekelenburg (Netherlands)
Surprisingly, an old familiar face such as Maarten Stekelenburg actually made the cut into the Netherlands' final squad. The 38-year-old Ajax goalkeeper is the second-oldest player to participate in the Euro 2020 competition, as he was born in September 1982. Frank De Boer's No. 1 goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was tasted positive for COVID-19, and it was the 58-games capped veteran who got the call-up including Tim Krul and Marc Bizot.
3. Craig Gordon (Scotland)
Born in December 1982, Craig Gordon is a Scottish goalkeeper who competes in Euro 2020 as the third oldest player. The Tartan Army qualified in a major international competition for the first time since 1998. They did it in a spectacular manner, defeating Serbia on penalties in the UEFA Nations League Playoffs. The experienced Scotland goalie is one of three goalkeepers included in the 26-man team. He has formerly played for Sunderland, Celtic, and is presently at Hearts. Last season, Gordon maintained 13 clean sheets in 26 league games.
4. Yuri Zhirkov (Russia)
Russia might be one of the tournament's underdogs, who will be aiming to replicate their 2018 FIFA World Cup success and produce a few upsets. One of their most experienced players is Yuri Zhirkov. The 37-year-old former Chelsea player, who will be 38 in August, plays a key part in the club. He is now a member of Zenit St. Petersburg. Zhirkov is a constant danger on the left-wing and will look to finish his international career on a positive note.