Germany's star-studded squad in 2012 failed to lift the European Championship trophy.

13 players we can’t believe have never won the Euros: Mbappe, Maldini, Lahm…

The UEFA European Championship is one of the most prestigious international tournaments and you’d be surprised by how many big names have failed to win the competition.

It took Cristiano Ronaldo four attempts until he ultimately won it with Portugal in 2016, proving just how difficult the trophy is to win.

We’ve taken a closer look at the history of the Euros and found 13 players who really should’ve won the famous competition – which doesn’t include any Englishmen.

Kylian Mbappe

It might be harsh to include Mbappe on this list; the forward has only played at one previous European Championship and is part of a France squad that is favourites to win the 2024 finals this summer.

But winning the World Cup as a teenager ensures Mbappe will never be judged by normal parameters.

The 25-year-old has never even scored at the Euros and missed the crucial penalty in France’s shock last-16 defeat to Switzerland at Euro 2020. Work to do, Kylian…

Philipp Lahm

Lahm is one of the greatest right-backs ever and was captain of Germany’s victorious 2014 World Cup team. He also won every available club trophy at Bayern Munich, but the Euros always defied his grasp.

In 2008, after scoring a stunning last-minute winner against Turkey in the semis, a mistake by Lahm allowed Spain’s Fernando Torres to score the only goal in the final. He was hooked at half-time.

The full-back also appeared in the 2004 and 2012 finals without success. Germany haven’t won the competition since 1996, a staggering statistic given their resources and pre-eminence in European football.

The European Championship trophy has been lifted by 10 different countries.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every team to win the UEFA European Championship?

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Another World Cup winner in 2014, Schweinsteiger has made the most European Championship appearances without winning the competition.

The legendary Germany midfielder featured 18 times in the tournament during his international career and could only manage a runners-up medal in 2008 after losing out to Spain in the final.

He also appeared in the German’s inauspicious group-stage exit in 2014 and semi-final defeats in both 2012 and 2016.

Johan Cruyff

Cruyff’s exploits at the 1974 World Cup, where the ‘total football’ of the Netherlands lit up the tournament before losing in the final to West Germany, are legendary.

His refusal to play in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina is also noteworthy. But it’s less known that the greatest Dutch player of them all should’ve won the Euros in between.

Staged in Yugoslavia, the 1976 finals seemed destined to be another shoot-out between the Dutch and the West Germans, only for Cruyff and co to lose against Czechoslovakia in the semis.

A shame, but we’d have been denied Antonin Panenka’s iconic winning penalty had events played out as expected.

READ NEXT: 13 stars from Euro 2008 who have gone into management: Alonso, Xavi, Pirlo…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every England player to score at the European Championship?

Roberto Baggio

One of the most iconic footballers of the 1990s, Baggio starred at three World Cups for Italy but never played at the European Championship.

Making his debut months after Euro ’88, Baggio was unable to inspire Italy to the finals in Sweden four years later and wasn’t selected in 1996 or 2000.

Alfredo Di Stefano

Born in Argentina, Di Stefano spent the best years of his career with Real Madrid – and the ‘Blond Arrow’ won most of his international caps for Spain, scoring 23 goals in 31 games between 1957 and 1961.

Still going strong at the time of the inaugural Euros in 1960, he would almost certainly have been involved – but La Roja withdrew, delivering yet another slice of bad luck to Di Stefano, who didn’t feature when Spain won the tournament in 1964.

One of the all-time greats, he somehow never played at the World Cup either.


Despite Euesbio’s quality – and Portugal’s perma-presence in modern-day tournaments – they never qualified for the Euros whilst the legendary Benfica striker was playing.

The first Euros they qualified for was in 1984, 13 years after the original Portuguese superstar retired.

Eusebio only ever featured in one major tournament – although he was the top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, where Portugal finished third and were arguably the best team in the competition.

Michael Laudrup

Laudrup is surely the greatest Danish footballer of all time, but he wasn’t part of the famous Euro 92 winning squad after falling out with manager Richard Moller Nielsen.

One of the few players to be adored at both Barcelona and Real Madrid, Laudrup did star at both Euro 84 and the 1986 World Cup and played his final matches for Denmark in their run to the quarter-finals of France ’98.


READ: ‘I won 10-0’: When Michael Laudrup ruled El Clasico for Real & Barca


The golden boy of Spanish football at the turn of the millennium, Raul missed a last-minute penalty in Spain’s quarter-final defeat to France at Euro 2000 and was captain of the Spanish group-stage flops four years later.

Facing the prospect of failure to qualify for Euro 2008, coach Luis Aragones controversially dropped Raul from his squad and failed to recall him after the striker helped Real Madrid win La Liga two years on the bounce.

Spain went on to win Euro 2008 and Raul’s international career was over.

Paolo Maldini

Maldini played over 120 times for Italy, but never won an international trophy with the Azzurri.

Regarded as one of the best defenders of all time, Maldini helped Italy reach the final of Euro 2000, but they lost 2-1 to France thanks to an injury-time equaliser from Sylvian Wiltord and a golden goal from David Trezeguet.

His two other appearances in 1988 and 1996 were not as successful, losing in the semi-finals to the Soviet Union and the group stages of the latter tournament in England.

Pavel Nedved

One of the best midfielders of his generation, Nedved was part of the Czech Republic side that beat the odds to reach the final of Euro ’96.

But the side Nedved captained eight years later at the finals in Portugal was even better; oozing quality from Petr Cech in goal to the strike partnership of Jan Koller and Milan Baros.

They beat both Germany and the Netherlands in the group stage – the latter in arguably the finest European Championship match this century – before somehow losing to Greece and the silver goal in the semis. Robbed.

Czech Republic's Jan Koller lies dejected at the final whistle following defeat to Greece at Euro 2004

READ: Remembering the short-lived Silver Goal & the 2004 Czech side it robbed

Andrea Pirlo

Responsible for that Panenka against England at Euro 2012, Pirlo played in three European Championship finals without emulating his World Cup win in 2006.

The aforementioned 2012 tournament saw Pirlo fully transition into a hipster’s dream, with the midfielder dragging Italy to the final with a string of dominant performances that barely saw him move from the centre circle.

But Spain put a stop to Pirlo’s procession, crushing the Italians 4-0 in the Kyiv final.

Dennis Bergkamp

Van der Sar, the de Boer brothers, Davids, Seedorf, Overmars, Kluivert… the Dutch team of the 1990s really should’ve won a major tournament.

Bergkamp was arguably the most talented of them all, capable of spotting space invisible to the naked eye and producing several jaw-dropping strikes that instantly entered football’s lexicon.

But the Arsenal forward was allergic to the European Championship – he missed the crucial penalty in the Netherlands’s semi-final defeat to Denmark in 1992, was underwhelming at Euro ’96 and suffered a third successive penalty elimination on home soil in 2000.