The European Championships have always proven to be a hot bed for top clubs around the continent to scour talent and snap up the best performing stars of each given tournament. Whilst modern day football means prices tend to skyrocket during the summer fun, players have been signed up for good tournament performances with excellent results.
Who can forget Manchester United spending £30m to bring Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford after the teenager lit up Euro 2004? Or the impressive Mario Mandzukic earning himself a move to Bayern Munich and eventually to Juventus after scoring 3 goals for Croatia at Euro 2012? But for every Mandzukic and Rooney, there’s a player who moved too fast to a club who snapped him up with too much haste and it ended in horrific failure and embarrassment all around. Here are just 10 examples of players who probably regret moving so soon after a European Championship…
The Greek Young Footballer of the Year for 2001 was hot property after Euro 2004, as were the majority of young players in the Greece squad that shocked Europe – even if there were a lack of them on show.
The Panathinaikos right-back was being linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs as he continued to shine for his country during the summer – even Real Madrid were being talked about as a potential destination. Seitaridis eventually ended up at European Champions Porto as they rebuilt after Jose Mourinho took Paulo Ferreira with him to Chelsea. The Greek would move on to Dynamo Moscow after just a year in Portugal…
This is a name synonymous with French football when it comes to some of the country’s finest strikers over the years. A year before Euro 1992, Papin became the first French-based footballer to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or – doing so with Marseille.
In 1992, France failed to get out of their group but Papin continued to enhance his reputation by scoring both goals the French managed, earning himself a lucrative move to AC Milan for what was then a world record transfer fee.
But injuries and troubles settling into life in Italy saw Papin move on after just two years and 18 goals, then managing just three goals in two years at Bayern Munich before returning home to France.
One of Greece’s all-time greats, he was a legend before the country had even witnessed success at Euro 2004. He was also a Premier League cult-hero, spending two years with Leicester City before returning to Greece with AEK Athens, the club he would remain at until Euro 2004.
But as with any player who wins a major European tournament, Greece’s success brought courters and the Player of the Tournament had no shortage of them after cash-strapped AEK released him. His choice was Serie A side Bologna, but after relegation he was soon released and returned back to Greece with PAOK where he would finish his career.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if you don’t remember the name Zlatko Zahovic – but those following Slovenia will remember him fondly and cherish his talents. After excelling in Portugal with Porto, Zahovic moved to Olympiacos the year before Euro 2000 and Zahovic was one of the names on most people’s lips after his performances in qualifying.
Three goals at the tournament itself for a relatively unfancied side saw him join Valencia, who reached the Champions League final with Zahovic in the team. Sadly, the Slovenian missed his penalty in the shoot-out and Valencia lost the final, with Zahovic moving back to Portugal after just one season.
Another Eastern European legend that’s perhaps more recognisable to the average football fan but another player who starred alongside Zahovic at Euro 2000. The former Aston Villa striker came into the tournament with 38 goals in two years for Real Zaragoza and scored five goals for Yugoslavia at the Euro’s, the joint most alongside Holland’s Patrick Kluivert.
A money-spinning move to Parma followed but the goals did not go with him. He managed just nine league goals in Serie A before returning to Zaragoza 18 months after his initial departure. He stayed in Spain until briefly playing for Rubin Kazan in 2008 before his retirement from the game.
Unless you’re a complete Euro 2004 aficionado, the name Marek Heinz might be another you look at it and think, “who?”
Heinz went into Euro 2004 relatively unknown but also with 19 goals in a single season in the Czech Republic for Banik Ostrava and all eyes were on his compatriot Milan Baros – who did go on to be the top scorer at the tournament. But with two goals of his own as Czech Republic made the semi-finals, Heinz got a move to Gladbach, but would spend just one season in Germany and in fact just one season at his next six clubs thereafter.
The Portuguese star who just never really seemed to fulfil his talent. Gomes saved his first international goal for his country’s opening game of Euro 2000 – their superb 3-2 comeback against England. Gomes would go on to score a further three goals in the tournament and earned himself a big money move to Fiorentina but financial collapse saw him return to Benfica just two years later.
Whilst the breakdown of the move wasn’t of his own doing, Gomes decided to stay at Benfica after an even more impressive Euro 2004 and would stay with the club until 2011.
The French striker might be one of the strangest footballers ever. He showed plenty of talent at Bordeaux as a youngster, but a move away never materialised until 1996. He made an impression on AC Milan when he knocked them out of UEFA Cup just months before going to the Euro’s with France.
He managed one goal at the tournament before joining the Italian giants where he lasted just one season, scoring five goals. A move to Barcelona followed, where he would leave without even so much as a solitary goal. In 2003, he ended up at Birmingham, well-known as the Bordeaux of the Midlands…
The tall Russian seemed to have everything going for him at Euro 2008; he was strong, powerful and had a real eye for goal. Regularly the most prolific striker at Spartak Moscow, Pavlyuchenko rose to fame when he scored two goals in a qualifier against England which severely hampered their hopes of qualifying for the tournament and we all know how that ended…
The Russian shined on the big stage too, helping his side shock several big-name sides and was eventually named in the team of the tournament. Roman joined Spurs in August and despite a promising start, managed just 21 league goals in four years before returning to Moscow.
Karel Poborsky and Jordi Cruyff
Ok, I’ve cheated a bit here but who can forget Alex Ferguson signing two of Euro 1996’s shining stars off the back of seemingly that tournament alone?
To be fair to Ferguson, he didn’t get many wrong and Poborsky in particular was excellent on the big stage. His magnificent chip against Portugal at Villa Park was one of the highlights of the tournament whilst Cruyff himself performed admirably for the Netherlands under the shadow of his father’s name.
Poborsky lasted two seasons at Old Trafford, scoring five goals before moving to Benfica whilst Cruyff at least managed to outlast his new team mate, leaving for Alaves in 2000 after a brief loan spell at Celta Vigo. Cruyff showed glimpses of his talent with some lovely goals but ultimately it never worked out for either.