Cristiano Ronaldo to Make Historic Sixth Euros Appearance as Olivier Giroud Bows Out!

Euro 2024 gets underway tonight and for some players it will be the last one of their careers. 

‘Life begins at 40’ is a well-known saying, but for most footballers it marks the end of a career they would’ve began at childhood.

Advances in sports science and lifestyle choices mean some of the continent’s finest can enjoy longer careers but everything comes to an end eventually.

A certain Portuguese superstar marked his Euros debut exactly 20 years ago and is likely to bow out next month. Meanwhile, for a teenager like Spain’s 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, it will be the start of a rollercoaster journey.

Mail Sport takes you through a list of big star names set to close their European Championship chapter.

A number of Europe’s top players are set to feature in their final European Championship

For a teenager like Spain’s 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, it will be the start of rollercoaster journey

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Ronaldo made his Euros debut as a spotty-faced teenager for Portugal in 2004. After beating England on penalties in the quarter-finals, glory was insight in his first attempt at the tournament.

Portugal then beat the Netherlands in the semi-finals, with Ronaldo scoring in a 2-1 win. However, it ended in tears for him as the hosts fell to a shock defeat against Greece in the final.

Two attempts and 12 years later, the Real Madrid legend eventually won the Euros and even played the role of player-manager in the final as Portugal overcame France in Paris.

Now aged 39 years and four months, Ronaldo continues to defy the odds after scoring 44 goals in 45 games for Saudi club Al-Nassr. There is no doubting his hunger on the pitch after he was seen distraught following his side’s recent loss in the King’s Cup final.

Ronaldo broke the record for most European Championship appearances with five at Euro 2020 and looks set to extend it.

He will be 43 by Euro 2028, and while this summer is likely his last, don’t be surprised if he’s still around then!

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to feature in his sixth European Championships, a record he holds

Luka Modric (Croatia)

Luka Modric is set to play in his ninth, and likely final, major international competition for Croatia.

The 38-year-old might be approaching the end of his career, but he is still playing at an incredibly high level, making 45 appearances for Real Madrid this season.

He is no longer the regular starter for Los Blancos, but he is still the influential heartbeat of the Croatia midfield, and if this is his final international tournament, he will be determined to go out with a bang.

Croatia have failed to get past the last 16 since 2008, when Modric became the nation’s youngest goalscorer in the Euros at the time.

So, will the midfield maestro inspire his country to a first silverware?

Luka Modric might be approaching the end of his career, but he is still playing at a high level

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper is nearing the end of a marvellous career that has seen him win every trophy – well, almost!

Neuer has won multiple league titles, domestic cups, Champions Leagues and even the World Cup with Germany in 2014. But the Euros has long eluded him and he will want to correct that aged 38.

It will be Neuer’s eighth tournament for the national team, having made his international debut in 2010. In that time, Germany were knocked twice in the Euros semi-finals and once in the last-16.

Will it be a fourth time lucky?

Manuel Neuer has had a hugely successful career but the Euros has long eluded him

Olivier Giroud (France)

Giroud has become somewhat of a France legend since marking his debut for Les Bleus in 2011.

The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker made his Euros debut in 2016 but it turned out to be one to forget as France lost in the final to Portugal.

A World Cup triumph, 133 caps and 57 goals (France’s all-time top goalscorer) later the 37-year-old, who last month joined MLS side LAFC, announced his plan to retire from international football after this summer’s tournament.

‘You have to be honest, when you make a choice like that [moving to the MLS], it’s also to be able to enjoy your family a little more,’ Giroud told LEquipe.

‘To be honest, you have to say that this will be my last competition with the Blues. Obviously, I’m going to miss it a lot.

‘But I think that the French team will be finished after the Euro. We must give way to young people.’

France striker Olivier Giroud is set to retire from international football after this tournament

Pepe (Portugal)

At the age of 41 and three months, Pepe will be Euro 2024’s oldest player.

The tough tackling defender has shown no signs of slowing down as he showed when he was a stand out player during Porto’s Champions League clash with Arsenal earlier this year.

After 132 caps and eight major tournaments for Portugal, Pepe will close a chapter on his Euros journey or possibly even his career as a whole this summer, with his contract set to expire while he’s away in Germany.

Pepe tasted European glory with Portugal in 2016 but like many of his age mates at this tournament, he will want to sign off by lifting the trophy (again).

At the age of 41 and three months, Portugal defender Pepe will be Euro 2024’s oldest player

Special mentions to

Toni Kroos: The Real Madrid midfielder came out of international retirement just to feature in this tournament. At 34, he’s not the oldest in comparison to some but will bring down the curtain on his career after this summer.

The Euros remains the only trophy he hasn’t won in an illustrious career. What a way to sign off it’d be if he was to delivery it on home soil…

Jesus Navas: An underrated hero some may say. The former Manchester City winger has continued to play at the highest level in LaLiga with Sevilla and will take to the big stage once again.

The 38-year-old has already won the World Cup and Euros with Spain – and therefore knows what it takes to go all the way.

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