Euro Chumps: Ronald Koeman

The Dutch side of 1988 was one brimming with talent; easily one of the best sides in European Championship history.

But in typical Dutch fashion they had to tarnish that accolade with pure petulance and it should come as no surprise that it was one of the most petulant players of all.

Defender Ronald Koeman wasn’t your typical bruising centre half. Not blessed with tremendous height or much pace, Koeman relied on a GPS-like sense of positioning, a clever football brain and a range of passing that was akin to that of championship golfer on the driving range. Add to that an unerring accuracy from set pieces; Koeman boasted a goal record of one in every four games from centre half – and you can see why he was such an important part of this glittering Dutch side.

But whilst Messrs. Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard were doing their best to light up the tournament, Koeman was trying his best to uphold that Dutch tradition of bringing of the game into disrepute.

Fresh off being left in the dust by England’s Bryan Robson, Koeman went one better in the semi-final against archrivals West Germany. After Van Basten netted a last-gasp winner to send the Dutch through to the final and the hosts spiralling out. As is tradition, the two teams swapped shirts at the final whistle with Koeman receiving Olaf Thon’s.

And to show his gratitude, Koeman proceeded to simulate wiping his backside with the West German midfielder’s top, right in front of the home supporters. This would be the equivalent to Ally McCoist wiping his nose with Gary Lineker’s top in front of a packed Wembley. Regrettably, it wouldn’t be Koeman’s last misdemeanour on the big stage.

Euro Chumps: Jürgen Klinsmann

The eyes of Europe were focused on West Germany’s prodigious young talent Jürgen Klinsmann as Euro 88 kicked off in his homeland and the VfB Stuttgart striker certainly made a lasting impression on the watching millions.

The-then reigning West German Young Player of the Year had not yet made an impact on the international stage but all that changed against bitter rivals the Dutch in the semi-finals of the 1988 tournament.

A ball into the edge of the area found Klinsmann, who turned and launched himself over the thigh of an Oranje defender with a triple Salchow, double somersault and belly flop finish for a dubious penalty, which was converted by Andreas Brehme (fresh off being swatted away by Bobby Mancini) and thus a career was born. Klinsmann would even take this ‘talent’ to a bigger stage and ‘earn’ his country the World Cup just two years later. All this being long before he wowed English fans by turning this art form into a celebration rather than a dirty, cheating technique.

Euro Champs: Roberto Mancini

Yes, the same Roberto Mancini who prowls the touchline at the Etihad, omnipresent in his blue and white scarf, telling anyone who would listen that Manchester City have no chance of winning the Premier League.

Before he rolled up at Leicester City and won a barrow-load of managerial honours with an Inter Milan side that were streets ahead of their rivals in Serie A because of the match-fixing scandal, Mancini was actually one of Europe’s premier attacking midfielder players and was the heartbeat of a Sampdoria side that were amongst the continent’s frontrunners in the late-80s/early 90s.

And did Mancini ever show that class in the opening game of Euro 88, silencing hosts West Germany with a well-taken goal. It was the Italian’s celebration that lived long in the memory though; a wide-eyed, slaloming run to the touchline that looked like he had been overtaken by the spirit of Marco Tardelli, even going so far as to swat West German defender Andreas Brehme out of the way in hilarious fashion.

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