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Most Man of the Match winners in European Championship

Tue 03 May 2022 | 15:00

The European Championship is one of football's most prestigious cup competitions and it’s featured some of the best players too. Read on to find out more about the most man of the match winners in European Championship.

It is a tradition in football to select a player with the most outstanding performance after a game as “Man of the Match”. Now, to participate and play in a European Championship tournament and represent your country is a great honor by itself. The man of the match award was introduced by UEFA for Euro 1996 and has been in place at every tournament since then.

So, just imagine how being named “Man of the Match” after a European championship match must feel like to a player. Here and in this article, we want to take a look at the players with the most “Man of the Match” awards among all

UEFA European Championship awards

.

Since the accolade's introduction at EURO '96, Spain's

Andrés Iniesta

and Portugal forward

Cristiano Ronaldo

have been named man or star of the match more than any other player.

Most Man of the Match winners in European Championship:

Below is a ranked list of the most Man of the Match award winners from each Champions League tournament.

Equal weighting has been given to how much of a contribution they made to the result (goals, assists, penalty saves) as well as their overall performance and influence on the team. From all the players on the field, these players had the highest match performance and given highest FC Match Rating.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 6 times (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020)

  • Full name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro

  • Date of birth: 5 February 1985 (age 37)

  • Place of birth: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

  • Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)

  • Position(s): Forward

  • Current team: Manchester United

The man, the myth, the legend, the best European player to have ever set foot on a football pitch, without a doubt, is Cristiano Ronaldo and his name is on top of our list of the

most man of the match winners in European Championship

. The Portuguese longevity and dominance in EURO competitions are no secret to us.

He has played in the last 5 campaigns (from 2004 to 2020) and has scored 14 goals in total; both are records. Also, being among the

Euro Golden Boot winners

as he won the award in Euro 2020.

We all know that if we want to state Ronaldo’s records, we need days to do so. Thus, let’s just focus on our topic’s relevance. Ronaldo’s first “Man of the Match” title in EUROs came on June 11, 2008, against the Czech Republic in the group stage.

It was Ronaldo’s second campaign, after the terrible loss in the finals against Greece in 2004, and he wanted to show he can lead Portugal to glory. Ronaldo scored and assisted once against the Czech Republic to secure a 3-1 win and their qualification to the elimination round and was awarded his first MOTM (Man of the Match) title.

His second and third MOTMs came during EURO 2012. On June 17, 2012, Portugal was facing the

Netherlands

in the last group match. The Netherlands had a 1-0 lead but Cristiano Ronaldo came up big and stole the victory for his country as he scored two goals in the 28th and 74th minute of the game and Portugal was able to qualify for the quarter-finals.

After the game, he was given MOTM award in a EURO competition for the second time. Next, they had to play against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

Ronaldo was able to reminisce his good memories against the Czech as he scored the winner late in the game and led

Portugal

to the semi-finals, as well as bringing home his back-to-back “Man of the Match” award.

Euro 2016 was surely Ronaldo’s most memorable competition as they were able to pull off a miracle and win the tournament in France that year.

In the last group stage match, Portugal was facing Hungary and they needed to win to qualify or at least tie and hope to qualify as a third team. The game ended with a 3-3 tie and Portugal was lucky enough to qualify but even luckier to have Ronaldo in their squad in that game as he assisted the first goal and scored the next two in order to ensure his team’s survival in the competition.

In the semi-final match against Wales, Ronaldo had, yet again, another phenomenal performance and helped his team with a goal and an assist to secure a 2-0 win and tickets for the final match against France. Both matches brought Ronaldo his 4th and 5th MOTM awards but his main celebration, unquestionably, came after his gold as EURO champion.

Ronaldo’s last European championship “Man of the Match” award came in his latest campaign in the competitions in a group stage match against another familiar name, Hungary. Cristiano Ronaldo was able to somehow mirror his performance against Hungary from 4 years before as he scored two goals from Portugal’s three.

Hungary, on the other hand, was not as successful despite putting up a fair fight against the defending champions. The game ended 3-0 and Cristiano Ronaldo was named the “Man of the Match”. He has won the

most Man of the Match in EURO history

.

Andrés Iniesta – 6 times (2008, 2012, 2016)

  • Full name: Andrés Iniesta Luján

  • Date of birth: 11 May 1984 (age 37)

  • Place of birth: Fuentealbilla, Spain

  • Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

Another legend among the

most man of the match winners in European Championship

is the Spanish magician, Andrés Iniesta. He too, like Cristiano Ronaldo has been named “Man of the Match” in Euro competitions 6 times, but Iniesta was able to do it in 3 campaigns.

Iniesta, along with Germany’s Rainer Bonhof and 12 other Spanish players, is the only player to have won the competition more than once (2 times).

Iniesta was one of the most important players on that famous Spain team in both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns that won back-to-back championships, as well as being selected as a part of the team of the tournament both years. He was also, named “Player of the Tournament” after Euro 2012.

Now to get to our own agenda, Iniesta’s “Man of the Match” series started on 26 June 2008. It was the semi-finals of Euro 2008 and Spain was facing Russia where Iniesta dazzled our minds with his pure class and assisted the first goal to his Barcelona mate,

Xavi

for Spain’s first goal.

They won the game 3-0 and young Iniesta won his first Euro MOTM award then and there. Spain went on to the finals and defeated Germany to win the tournament that year.

Euro 2012 was another special tournament for Iniesta and Spain; they were not only the defending champions of Euro, but they also came into the tournament as FIFA 2010 World Cup champions.

The stakes were high, and so were the expectations, but Iniesta was there to answer them all. Spain began the tournament with a tie against Italy, a team they faced again later in the finals, and the game ended with a 1-1 tie.

Iniesta had a huge impact on the game despite neither scoring nor assisting the game, but his general control of the game brought his second Euro MOTM award. In the last match of the group stage, Spain had to face a well-prepared Croatia to fight for their spot in the quarter-finals.

It was a classic fight between talent and hard work that day at PGE Arena on June 18, 2012. In the end, it was Iniesta’s unselfish pass in front of the goal to Jesus Navas in the 88th minute that made all the difference as Spain won the game and qualified to the elimination stage. Iniesta won his second MOTM award of the tournament that day.

The third one, luckily for Andres, came with a bonus prize.

Spain

went head-to-head against Italy on July 1, 2012, in Euro 2012 Final match. Spain was performing a symphony of passes that game, playing a 4-6-0 formation and basically passing their way to the opposition’s goal, and Iniesta was the choirmaster that day.

Spain won the game 4-0 and became the first team to defend their European Championship title. Iniesta won “Man of the Match” after the final match as well as the “Player of the Tournament” award.

His next two MOTM awards came back-to-back during Spain’s first two matches in Euro 2016. Spain started the tournament with a 1-0 win against the Czech Republic, in which Iniesta assisted a late goal with one of his famous inside curlers, winning the game for his country.

He was also named “Man of the Match” for the last time the game after against Turkey. The 33-year-old Iniesta mesmerized everyone that day all around the world with his skill and composure every time his feet touched the ball. He was deservingly handed the “Man of the Match” after that for the last time.

Andrea Pirlo – 4 times (2008, 2012)

  • Full name: Andrea Pirlo

  • Date of birth: 19 May 1979 (age 42)

  • Place of birth: Flero, Italy

  • Height: 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

Former world champion and Italian maestro,

Andrea Pirlo

is next on the list of the

most man of the match winners in European Championship

.

He is the only player in our top four that had never won the competition but despite that fact, he has been listed as UEFA European Championship All-time XI that was conducted in 2016 and UEFA Team of the Year player after Euro 2012, where he played in the final.

Pirlo’s first MOTM award was handed to him after a 1-1 tie against Romania in the second group match of Euro 2008. He was paired with De Rossi as holding midfielders for Italy.

De Rossi was the destroyer and Pirlo had to control the play and build up every single of Italy’s attacks, which he did marvelously that day.

The next three awards all came to him at Euro 2012, just like Iniesta. Pirlo’s genius helped Italy to manage the game well enough against a young and enthusiastic Croatia back in 2012.

Although Pirlo is not known for his goalscoring abilities, he was the man who put the ball in the back of Croatia’s net.

The game ended with a 1-1 draw, but Italy was surely happy with the result because they were heavily under attack late in that game. Itay qualified to the knock-out rounds and they had to face England in the quarte-finals.

A balanced game between two old foes that resulted in a nil-nil draw after 120 minutes of football. Pirlo, having won the MOTM before the penalty shoot-outs, went on to take the third penalty and his Panenka penalty shoot is still one of the highlights of that whole Euro campaign.

Italy managed to win

England

in penalties and go through the semi-finals where mighty Germany was waiting for them. Pirlo was placed as a single pivot in the 4-4-2 diamond formation by Cesare Prandelli that game and his coolness during the game was mind-blowing.

He controlled the midfield with his measured passes and architected Italy’s build-up as they were able to win the game 2-0 and find themselves in the finals. Pirlo was, once again, named “Man of the Match”.

Zinedine Zidane – 4 times (2000, 2004)

  • Full name: Zinedine Yazid Zidane

  • Date of birth: 23 June 1972 (age 49)

  • Place of birth: Marseille, France

  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)

  • Position(s): Attacking midfielder

Tied with Italian Maestro, is the French mastermind,

Zinedine Zidane

. 1998’s Ballon d’Or winner is arguably one of the best midfielders of all time and his performances in Euro competitions were ones to remember. Zizou has also been named “Man of the match” after a Euro game for the 4th time.

His first MOTM title was given to him on June 25, 2000, after the quarter-final match against Spain. Zidane scored the first goal during a 2-1 win as France paved their way into the semi-finals. There, France was faced with Portugal. It was a tight match for both teams.

Portugal scored first but Henry equalized the game 1-1 and the 90 minutes finished with this result. Back then, they had the golden goal rule and in the 117th minute, France was given a penalty. Zinedine Zidane stood behind the ball and hits it to the back of the net with style to put France in the finals.

He was given his second MOTM award after the game due to his outstanding performance. France went on and won the final, too and Zizou was named “Player of the Tournament” that year.

After a successful campaign in Euro 2000, France and Zidane were ready to defend their title. Their first game was against one of the scariest England squads ever. England was dominant during 90 minutes and upfront 1-0 up to that moment. But Zizou had other plans.

Zinedine Zidane scored twice in the extra times and studded England as they lost the match 2-1. Zizou was well-deservingly named “Man of the Match”. Zidane’s last group match during Euro 2004 was against Switzerland and he was able to score a goal again in France’s 3-0 victory.

It wasn’t only his goal that brought him his 4th MOTM title, but his artistry during that game and the way he was kissing the ball with every touch.

Luka Modrić – 3 times (2008, 2016, 2020)

  • Full name: Luka Modrić

  • Date of birth: 9 September 1985 (age 36)

  • Place of birth: Zadar, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia

  • Height: 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

  • Current team: Real Madrid

Another Ballon d’Or winner on the list is Croatia’s beating heart,

Luka Modrić

. The 36-year-old has won 3 “Man of the Match” titles for himself. His first came after the group match against Germany in 2008, in a game that everyone thought Germany can easily win, Croatia came out with the three points after a 2-1 win.

Luka Modrić had an incredible performance despite being so young and having to fight in the midfield head-to-head with two of the best midfielders in German history, Michael Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

8 years later, in 2016, Luka was once again named MOTM after scoring the winner against Turkey in Euro 2016 group stage as his side came out victorious 1-0.

And at last, he was awarded the title for the last time on June 18, 2021, after Croatia’s 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic, in a game that Modrić was seen running every play for Croatia with the captain armband shining on his arm.

Zlatan Ibrahimović – 3 times (2004, 2008, 2012)

  • Full name: Zlatan Ibrahimović

  • Date of birth: 3 October 1981 (age 40)

  • Place of birth: Malmö, Sweden

  • Height: 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)

  • Position(s): Striker

  • Current team: AC Milan

As one of the best strikers of his generation, it would have been a surprise not to see

Zlatan Ibrahimović

on the list. Zlatan’s longevity has always been in the discussion among all football lovers and this article is no exception.

He has won “Man of the Match” on three different occasions, during three different campaigns, and has scored during all of them. In other words, just Zlatan stuff.

Ibra’s first MOTM award was achieved in the most Ibra way. He scored one of the best goals of the decade in the 85th minute of the game with a wonderful acrobatic backheel shoot against Italy to draw the game 1-1 and keep the hopes of Sweden’s qualification.

4 years later, Zlatan stepped up again and scored the opening goal against Greece in Sweden’s first game of the campaign to help his team win and also bag himself another Euro MOTM award. Years went by, but Zlatan stayed Zlatan.

On June 19, 2012, Sweden was facing France in the last group stage match of Euro 2012. Sweden was already eliminated but that didn’t Zlatan from scoring and leaving his mark on the game. He scored a goal in a 2-0 win that game and was named “Man of the Match” for the third time in his career after a Euro game.

Granit Xhaka – 3 times (2016, 2020)

  • Full name: Granit Xhaka

  • Date of birth: 27 September 1992 (age 29)

  • Place of birth: Basel, Switzerland

  • Height: 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

  • Current team: Arsenal

Granit Xhaka

might not be looked at as highly as Modric, Ozil, or Ballack, but no one can deny the huge amount of hard work and passion he shows when he wears his country’s shirt.

He might not be a goal scorer or a dribbler but his ability to control the game and read the opposition’s game during the last two Euro competitions have been extraordinary. He received back-to-back MOTMs after his first two matches in Euro 2016 against Albania and Romania.

Switzerland won the first and drew the second one. Xhaka was able to control both games very well in the middle of the field and didn’t give his opponents the chance to showboat their attacking plays.

His third, and last, MOTM was awarded after a heroic performance by Xhaka against world champions, France. On June 28, 2021, Switzerland faced France in the round-of-16 stage of Euro 2020 and although France was up 3-1 until the 80th minute, Switzerland came back in the most ferocious fashion and tied the game in the 90th minute, and later won the game in the penalties.

Granit Xhaka provided the assist for Switzerland’s third goal in the last minutes of the game and his stamina and endurance during 120 minutes were almost frightening.

Michael Ballack – 3 times (2004, 2008)

  • Full name: Michael Ballack

  • Date of birth: 26 September 1976 (age 45)

  • Place of birth: Görlitz, East Germany

  • Height: 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

German tank,

Michael Ballack

has been named “Man of the Match” three times in Euro competitions during two campaigns. His first two titles were after the first two group matches for Germany in Euro 2004 against Netherlands and Latvia during two draws, a 1-1 and a 0-0, respectively.

Ballack was awarded his third MOTM title after a 1-0 win against Austria on June 16, 2008. In a game, he scored the winning goal for his nation while wearing the captain's armband.

Germany went on to the finals that year but couldn’t defeat Spain’s dream team. Nevertheless, Michael Ballack will always be one of the best midfielders to have ever wore German shirt during a Euro tournament.

Mesut Özil – 3 times (2012, 2016)

  • Full name: Mesut Özil

  • Date of birth: 15 October 1988 (age 33)

  • Place of birth: Gelsenkirchen, West Germany

  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Position(s): Attacking midfielder

  • Current team: Fenerbahçe

Another German midfield on our list is

Mesut Özil

, one of the most creative attacking midfielders of his generation. He has also won 3 Euro MOTMs during his career.

The first two were in 2012 against Portugal in the group stage and against Greece in the quarter-finals. These matches ended 1-0 and 4-2, respectively, both in favor of Germany.

Özil was awarded the “Man of the Match” title again in 2016 after a group match 1-0 win against Northern Ireland, where Özil built the winning goal for his side.

Mesut Özil was able to successfully bring a new level of skillset to the Germany team during his fruitful career that was simply incomparable to any other player in the German football history.

Luís Figo– 3 times (2000, 2004)

  • Full name: Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo

  • Date of birth: 4 November 1972 (age 49)

  • Place of birth: Almada, Portugal

  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Position(s): Winger

Portugal’s number 7 before Cristiano Ronaldo,

Luís Figo

won 3 MOTMs during his Euro competitions. Twice in Euro 2000; first, against England in a game that Figo scored in the 22nd minute that ended 3-0.

And the second one in the quarter-finals against Turkey after a phenomenal performance that helped his team win the game 2-0 and reserve a spot in the semi-finals.

Figo was once again named “Man of the Match” after a Euro match, this time in 2004 and while he was wearing the captain armband against the Netherlands that ended in a 2-1 win, in favor of the Portuguese.

His leadership and stamina on the pitch during Euro 2004 was one of the most important reasons why Portugal reached to the finals that year.

Pepe – 3 times (2008, 2012, 2016)

  • Full name: Képler Laveran de Lima Ferreira

  • Date of birth: 26 February 1983 (age 39)

  • Place of birth: Maceió, Brazil

  • Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)

  • Position(s): Centre back

  • Current team: Porto

Surprisingly, the only defender on our list is Képler Lima or better known as Pepe. He has proven to be one of the best defenders in the history of Portugal history and here we want to give you three reasons why.

Pepe’s first MOTM title was awarded after a fantastic defensive performance as well as an offensive performance from him in the group match against Turkey in Euro 2008 where he scored one of the goals in Portugal’s 2-0 win that day.

Almost mirroring his performance in 2012 in another group match, this time against Denmark, Pepe was able to score the first goal. Portugal won the game 3-2 in a dramatic style with a late goal winner. Pepe was named “Man of the Match” once again.

But the third title is, by far, the best one he has ever received. Pepe was named “Man of the Match” after the 2016 final match in Euro 2016 that brought Portugal their first European Championship title after an absolutely splendid defensive performance throughout the 120 minutes of that game.

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