From Peter Schmeichel to David Silva, Manchester players have a history of capturing the headlines at the European football championships.
Many have been selected for the teams of the tournament from 1992 to 2012 – including Manchester United legends Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Others include Bolton’s French international Youri Djorkaeff, Fabien Barthez and Laurent Blanc who played for Manchester United and City’s Mario Balotelli.
United fans will also remember outstanding Euro performers Karel Poborsky, Gerard Pique, Edwin van der Sar and loan signing Henrik Larsson.
And there’s no forgetting Pep Guardiola, who played as a defensive midfielder for Spain in Euro 2000 and now manages Manchester City.
It all started with United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, the ‘Great Dane’, who won the Euros with unfancied Denmark in 1992. The Danes were only invited to take part due to the break-up of war-torn Yugoslavia.
Denmark defeated Germany 2-0 in the final at Gothenburg, Sweden, in what was the last tournament before the introduction of the back-pass rule.
Playing for France in 1992 was future United defender Laurent Blanc. He joined the Red Devils from Inter Milan in 2002 at the age of 35.
Blanc’s nickname was Le President, given to him during his time at Marseille. He made 48 league appearances for United from 1971 to 1973, scoring one goal.
Blanc was also named in the team of the tournament for Euro 1996, this time held in England. He was joined by Czech midfielder Karel Poborsky, who signed for United the same year, and French attacker Youri Djorkaeff, who played for Bolton from 2002 to 2004.
Although he played a major role in the Czech Republic team’s success –the team lost to Germany in the final – Poborsky could only manage a season and a half at United. He was overshadowed by rising England international David Beckham.
After 32 league appearances and six goals, he moved to Benfica in 1968 where he became a massive fans’ favourite.
Djorkaeff was a surprise signing for Bolton Wanderers in 2002 after spending three years with German club Kaiserslautern.
He linked up brilliantly with Nigerian midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha and former Real Madrid defensive midfielder Ivan Campo during the reign of manager Sam Allardyce.
Djorkaeff transferred to Blackburn Rovers in 2004, but only played three games for the Lancashire team before leaving for the American club MetroStars based in New Jersey.
Future Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was playing for Spain and Barcelona when he was named in the Euro 2000 team of the tournament.
The defensive midfielder was joined by Blanc and United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, who was a member of the victorious French team.
A respected racing driver as well as a footballer, Barthez joined United from Monaco in 2000 for a transfer fee of £7.8 million. His eccentric behaviour delighted and exasperated fans in equal measure, but he was never dull!
Barthez left United in 2003 to return to one of his former clubs, Marseille. He made 92 league appearances for the Red Devils.
A trio of United superstars were picked for the team of the tournament in Euro 2004, held in Portugal. They were Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The surprise winners were Greece, but Ronaldo’s Portugal were runners-up. Rooney and van Nistelrooy were the tournament’s second highest scorers with four goals apiece.
Ronaldo joined the Red Devils in 2003 and made 196 league appearances, scoring 84 goals, before transferring to Real Madrid in 2009.
Rooney remains United’s top scorer of all time with 253 goals in all competitions, while Dutch international van Nistelrooy netted 95 times for the Red Devils in 150 league appearances from 2001 to 2006.
Sweden’s Henrik Larsson was also in the Euro 2004 team of the tournament. He joined United on loan from Helsingborg for three months in 2007, playing seven league matches and scoring once.
Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was selected for the 2008 Euro team of the tournament played in Austria and Switzerland and won by Spain. He made 186 appearances for United from 2005 to 2011 after joining from Fulham.
From the 2012 team of the tournament came City’s superb Spanish midfielder David Silva, who joined the Blues in 2010, and international team-mate Gerard Pique. Playing now for Barcelona, Defender Pique started his senior career at United in 2004.
*Readers can revel in the past 150 years with a brilliant anniversary book from the M.E.N. and local publishers iNostalgia.
The Changing Face of Manchester: Second Edition is packed with past images of Manchester contrasted with modern photos of how the same scenes look now.
The book retails at £14.99, but M.E.N. readers can order it for the reduced price of £9.99 plus postage and packing.
Just go to inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or telephone the order hotline on 01928 503777.