Euro 2020 will feature quite a few of the most experienced players in the game. Several top European sides have gone with a mixture of youth and experience with emphasis on the former as they head into the continental tournament.
Euro 2020 could very well be the final major international tournament for an array of top players who have had exciting careers in football. Plenty of these players have surprised us over the years with their endurance and longevity.
Euro 2020 will feature some of the best veterans in the game
A few players on the list are still among the most important members of their nation’s squad heading into Euro 2020. But with so many exciting young talents breaking onto the international stage, it might be time for these veterans to call it quits on their careers with the national side.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five players who could retire from international football after the tournament.
#5 Yuri Zhirkov (Russia)
Russian veteran left-back Yuri Zhirkov has been a fixture in the national side. He is 37-years-old now and could call it a day on his 16-year international career at the end of the tournament.
Zhirkov has made 104 appearances for Russia and is one of the most revered figures in the country’s footballing history. He has kept his fitness levels up even though he is in the twilight years of his career. Zhirkov made 20 appearances for Zenit St. Petersburg across all competitions this past season.
He has made twice as many appearances as Stanislav Cherchesov, the second most capped player in Russia’s squad. Zhirkov has spent almost his entire career playing in Russia except for a couple of forgettable seasons he spent at Chelsea from 2009 to 2011.
But given his age, Euro 2020 could be the legendary Russian’s last major tournament for his country.
Lukasz Fabianski will go down in history as one of the most recognizable goalkeepers of the Premier League era. His consistent performances in the English top-flight in recent years have earned him a lot of plaudits. But the 36-year-old has only earned 56 caps for the Polish national side.
With Wojciech Szczęsny also in the mix, it remains to be seen if Fabianski will be Poland’s first-choice to guard the net at Euro 2020. Despite being 36, Fabianski was excellent for West Ham United this past Premier League season.
He kept 10 cleansheets in 35 appearances for David Moyes’ men as they secured a place in the UEFA Europa League with a sixth-placed finish. Fabianski is among an array of veterans who are expected to hang up their boots after Euro 2020.
#3 Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
With 107 caps to his name, Giorgio Chiellini is the most experienced Italian player at Euro 2020. A tough-tackling, no-nonsense defender, Chiellini is still going strong at the age of 36. He continues to be the first-choice centre-back at his club Juventus.
Roberto Mancini will bank on Chiellini’s experience on the international stage to lead his side through the tournament. Italy have one of the most exciting squads going into Euro 2020. They have a lot of veterans in their squad with as many as seven players over the age of 30.
But Chiellini is the oldest of them all and this is likely to be his last major tournament for the international side. He struggled with various injury issues throughout the 2020-21 season and it seems like his age is finally catching up with him.
Despite being 38, Pepe continues to be one of Portugal’s first-choice centre-backs. He is expected to be partnered up with young Ruben Dias at Euro 2020. Fernando Santos will be hoping that Pepe’s experience and Dias’ overall excellence will prove to be a formidable combination at the back.
Pepe has been a regular feature in the Portugal national side since 2008. He played a crucial role in Portugal’s 2016 Euro triumph and their subsequent title-winning run in the UEFA Nations League.
The former Real Madrid centre-back still packs a lot of pace and is one of the most aggressive defenders heading into the tournament. But it certainly looks like he might call it quits after Euro 2020 as he has suffered multiple injuries over the course of the past couple of seasons.
#1 Luka Modric (Croatia)
Luka Modric is arguably Croatia’s most important player as they gear up for Euro 2020. The Real Madrid midfielder has enjoyed the best spell of his career since turning 30 and even guided his team to the World Cup final in 2018. But he could be the most high-profile player to retire from international football after Euro 2020.
Modric will turn 36 in September and though his fitness levels have been satisfactory, he could call it a day on his international career after the tournament. Croatia also have a crop of talented midfielders like Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic and Nikola Vlasic in their squad and they could take over from here on in.