Euro 2016: 5 Players whose careers have been reborn in France
There’s no better way for an exciting new talent to announce themselves to the watching world than at a major international tournament. But it’s also a chance for players who’ve faded from the spotlight or seen their form dip, to suddenly rejuvenate their career in the most dramatic fashion.
Here are five men who have been doing just that at Euro 2016.
In late 2014, it seemed the Hungarian keeper’s career might be set for a miserable ending. His stint at Fulham had been as awful as short, as he shipped 13 goals in the space of three games. Was the man in the famous grey jogging bottoms set to fade off into the sunset? Not quite.
After bouncing back with a solid but unspectacular season between the posts for homeland club Haladas, he sensationally became the oldest ever player at a European Championship aged 40, as he kept a clean sheet in Hungary’s 2-0 opening-game victory over Austria.
That was followed by draws with Iceland and a highly-rated Portugal side. Eventually, Nemzeti Tizenegy were eliminated in the last 16 by Belgium, but whatever happens next for the veteran, there are no questions over his legacy now.
As with the Hungarian hero, Portuguese winger Nani left these shores as a frustrated figure, having failed to score in any of his final 25 league games for Manchester United.
Admittedly the 29-year-old has enjoyed reasonably good form in his last two seasons, first at Sporting Lisbon, and then Fenerbahce. However, it’s taken a partnership with former Old Trafford teammate Cristiano Ronaldo this summer, to truly see the mercurial winger back to his best.
Having netted with slick strikes against Iceland and Hungary already this summer, the former teen prodigy looks like he could finally become the player we saw glimpses of a decade ago. With a move to Spanish heavyweights Valencia reportedly taking place, watch this space…
Wearside watched on in collective disbelief earlier this month as one of Sunderland’s worst buys of recent years helped dismantle highly-rated Belgium, with a beautifully-taken goal in Italy’s 2-0 triumph over De Rode Duivels.
The Bibiena native was loaned out to Bologna by the Black Cats after a 2014-15 campaign which saw him play only eight Premier League games on Wearside. Sunderland won none of them.
However, he’s gradually bounced back while on loan with I Rossoblu, netting seven times in Serie A. But the 31-year-old appears to have saved his best form for the Euros, setting up Giorgio Chiellini’s opener against Spain with a stunning cross. Sam Allardyce must be scratching his head.
After been frozen out by Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel, the Polish wide man has struggled to regain his form at club level, after a disappointing loan spell in Serie A with Fiorentina.
However, Euro 2016 looks set to reignite the talented 30-year-old’s career. He netted the only goal in the victory over Ukraine and helped Poland through to the quarter-finals with a superbly taken goal against Switzerland – before also netting in the shoot-out.
A superb crosser of the ball, with a lethal strike and boundless energy, it’s likely that if Tuchel still decides to turf him out at Dortmund, there will now be a long line of suitors outside of the Westfalenstadion ready to sign him.
Frequently more effective for national side Iceland than his club employers (a condition scientifically known as the ‘Hal Robson-Kanu effect’), the 26-year-old’s stock was possibly at an all-time low after scoring a meagre 3 goals in 26 Ligue 1 appearances for Nantes last term.
However, the Reykjavik-born striker has been at his very best in France this summer, with last night’s deftly-taken winning goal against England the finest moment in the history of Icelandic football.
Having impressed in all four games for Strakamir okkar so far this summer, he has all the attributes to provide another moment of magic this summer against hosts France. That scenario would truly leave Nantes supporters speechless.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.