Santi Cazorla during the European Championship match between Spain and Russia in Innsbruck, Austria, June 2008.

8 players from Euro 2008 we can’t believe are still playing in 2023

Fifteen years have passed since Euro 2008 took place in Austria and Switzerland. If you want to feel really old, there are people out there in their GCSE year who weren’t born during the England-free tournament. 

Everyone knows the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric are still going today, having caught the eye in the Alps as rising stars before establishing themselves as some of the finest players of their generation.

The tournament was won by a fine Spain side, the first of their three major tournament wins between 2008 and 2012. It was also marked by brilliant flashes from Germany, Netherlands, Russia and Turkey among others and is fondly remembered by a generation of football fans.

But what about the players from that tournament you didn’t realise were still playing? We’ve identified eight players that participated at Euro 2008 and how they’re getting on today.


Pepe scored Portugal’s opening goal of Euro 2008, finishing off a flowing move to break down Turkey’s rearguard in a 2-0 victory.

The centre-back, then aged 25, also appeared in matches against the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Germany as Portugal bowed out in the quarter-finals.

Now 40, Pepe has 134 caps for his country and is currently captain and lynchpin of Porto’s backline. He recently became the oldest player to play in Portugal’s top flight.

Santi Cazorla

Aged 23, Cazorla played a bit-part role in Spain’s first tournament success since 1964 with substitute appearances in every group match, the quarter-final against Italy and 23 minutes in the triumph over Germany in the final.

Then at Villarreal, the playmaker moved to big-spending Malaga in 2011 before signing for Arsenal a year later. He’d become a cult hero at the Emirates for his technical ability and willingness to embrace life in England.

After returning to Villarreal, and three years in Qatar with Al Saad, the 38-year-old moved to boyhood club Real Oviedo this summer and will receive minimum wage for the honour of playing for them.

Lukas Podolski

Podolski scored three goals at Euro 2008 as Germany progressed all the way to the final despite not looking convincing in a single match.

Part of the 2014 World Cup-winning squad, the forward retired from international football three years later and has enjoyed a (slightly) nomadic career that includes spells in England, Italy, Turkey and Japan.

Now deep into his 30s, Podolski is playing in Poland with Gornik Zabre and is still scoring absolute blooters.

Lukas Podolski celebrates scoring from the halfway line during the Polish League match between Gornik Zabrze and Pogon Sczczecin, November 2022.

READ: Look Arsenal, Lukas Podolski has won the 2023 Puskas Award already

Ivan Rakitic

Croatia were one of Euro 2008’s biggest pace-setters, winning all three group matches before losing a dramatic quarter-final to Turkey.

Their eye-catching, technical style of play was exemplified by Rakitic, who came into the side for their second match and remained there for the rest of the tournament.

Then just 20 and playing for Schalke, Rakitic would go on to become one of the most underrated players of his generation and shone with distinction at Barcelona during the mid-2010s. He also helped Croatia reach the World Cup

At the age of 35, Rakitic remains in Spain with Sevilla and was a part of the side that won last season’s Europa League.

Igor Akinfeev

For a brief spell in June 2008, Russia were one of the best sides in world football.

Despite eliminating England in the qualifiers, Russia travelled to Austria-Switzerland with little expectation but were blessed with the core of Zenit St Petersburg’s UEFA Cup-winning side and the irrepressible Andrei Arshavin.

While Arshavin and co took the headlines as they swept to the semi-finals, playing space-age football and knocking out the Netherlands in a memorable quarter-final, Akinfeev became widely known as one of Europe’s finest goalkeepers.

Then 22, he would remain Russia’s number one until the World Cup on home soil in 2018. He’s spent his entire club career at CSKA Moscow, making 517 appearances for the club, and remains there to this day.

Bafetimbi Gomis

Gomis made two substitute appearances at Euro 2008, but France stunk out the tournament and finished bottom of their group with a single point and goal to their name.

Then 22 and highly rated due to his goalscoring form at Saint-Etienne, Gomis would never make another tournament squad and suffered injury problems throughout his career.

After spells at Lyon, Swansea, Marseille, Galatasaray & Al-Hilal, the striker moved to Japan and joined Kawasaki Frontale at the age of 38 to see out his career.

Colin Kazim-Richards

Another dark horse that illuminated the European Championship in 2008, Turkey made three improbable comebacks en route to an unfortunate 3-2 defeat to Germany in the semi-finals.

And, in the absence of England, both BBC and ITV were fixated on Kazim-Richards who was just 21 and had been born in Leytonstone, London.

“It’s difficult because half my family is Muslim, and the other half is Christian,” he said in a 2008 interview. “I’ve always felt Turkish, though.

“My nene [grandmother], she can’t speak English. Half of my family, their first language is Turkish, and so I went to Turkish school before I played football, although I can’t remember any of it now.”

The striker played in every match of Turkey’s glorious campaign while the likes of Beckham, Gerrard and Rooney sat at home, before going on to enjoy a nomadic career.

At the age of 37, Kazim-Richards currently plays for Fatih Karagumruk in the Turkish Super Lig.

Marek Matejovsky

The Czechs weren’t much cop in 2008, bowing out in the group stages and looking a shadow of the side that should’ve won Euro 2004.

Matejovsky wasn’t part of the 2004 squad, but started the defeats to Portugal and Turkey in the picturesque Stade de Geneve.

Then 26, the midfielder had just been relegated from the Premier League with Reading but stayed in Berkshire for a further two years before moving to Sparta Prague.

After six years and over 100 appearances, Matejovsky moved to Mlada Boleslav – where he’s still playing at 41. Fair play, mate.

READ NEXT: How England’s absence from Euro 2008 made it a classic tournament

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