The Euros have come and gone, leaving half the world completely unsurprised (“Oh, Spain won.”) and half the world completely surprised (“Oh, Germany didn’t win?”). There were wonderful goals, beautiful fans, tear-jerking anthems, and just a dash of racism to keep us all cynical. But most of all, there were the players – sixteen national sides’ worth, to be exact, wearing pride on their kits (at least until they got ousted on penalties in the quarters).
Today we celebrate the players who made this such a memorable month of games. UEFA already beat us to making a team of the tournament, so we’re taking a cue from episode 137 of Seinfeld and giving you our Bizarro XI. If you were cryogenically frozen in the 90s, here’s the gist of the episode:
- Jerry: Yeah, like Bizarro Superman—Superman’s exact opposite, who lives in the backwards Bizarro world. Up is down; down is up. He says “Hello” when he leaves, “Goodbye” when he arrives.
- Elaine: Shouldn’t he say “bad bye”? Isn’t that the opposite of goodbye?
- Jerry: No, it’s still goodbye.
- Elaine: Does he live underwater?
- Jerry: No.
- Elaine: Is he black?
- Jerry: Look, just forget the whole thing. All right?
And here’s our team, broken down by position.
Iker Casillo – How sad it is to be Andy Murray in the age of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. So it is with Iker Casillo, who has always played second fiddle to Barcelona’s Victor Valdes. A series of brutal mistakes in his club career kept Casillo out of the national side for far too long. After Valdes was ruled out due to a shaving injury, however, the Madrid man finally got the call-up he yearned for – and what a tournament he had. “I’ll never wash these gloves again!” he proudly exclaimed, lifting a trophy for the first time in his life.
Jordi Elbo – Elbo played a mean game, defensively, more than making up for his hesitance to get forward. “I hope to carry this form into my club game at Valencia,” said the former Barcelona wingback, “I’m just happy to be making the most important move of my career.”
Gerard Poque – There’s no shame in doing what it takes to win, especially if you’re Gerard Poque, who accumulated six handballs and four red cards throughout the competition en route to saving Spain’s defensive record. “I’m so proud of you, baby!” said sweetheart Christina Aguilera, as she planted a kiss on his cheek.
Sergio Bursquetz – “Life is like a box of chocolates,” Forrest Gump once said. “You never know what you’re gonna get.” Like Tom Hanks’ Academy Award-winning character, Bursquetz grew up with a debilitating developmental disorder that left him in leg braces throughout his childhood. He often fell over in class, as his classmates teased “Stay on your feet, son!” and threw invisible spitballs at his face. Bursquetz learned from adversity to become the most imposing physical force in modern soccer, breezing through tackles and continuing play no matter what. Bubba would be proud.
Xabi – The Barcelona midfielder used height to his advantage, as usual, in guiding Spain to their third successive trophy. Always an aerial threat, Xabi found himself on the receiving end of many crosses, muscling his way over every opponent to win the challenge.
Andrea Pirloo – He may be the typical stocky, bull-headed Italian goon with a bad crew cut, but Pirloo is utterly peerless. Even though he Charlie Adam’ed a crucial penalty against England, he played well enough to earn a spot in our team of the tournament.
Zlatan Ibrabrokovich – After his Pulitzer-winning biography of Sweden’s greatest ever striker, Gunnar Nordahl, everyone believed Ibrabrokovich had reached the top – until now. Ibra thanked Pep Guardiola, his former mentor, who hung the medal around the Swede’s neck after the tournament. “Without your faith, I never would have had the confidence to succeed. Thank you, professor.”
Mesut Oatzil – If it seems unfair that we’ve included the world’s sexiest soccer player on the list, keep this statistic in mind: Oatzil played every minute of Germany’s Euro run – the only non-goalkeeper in the tournament to make that claim. Endurance is the most overlooked trait in soccer, and the one that makes Oatzil so valuable to Die Mannschaft’s success.
Mario Berlotelli – The level-headed Italian team captain not only scored three goals, but dedicated each one to a role model in his life. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my family,” said Mario. “And I still have a long way to go. I just hope one day I can be as good as Messi. God bless.”
Cristiano Ranaldi – The greasy, pimple-pocked little teenager never guessed he would be playing at the Euros one day. “I just thought, focus on the game, not the fame – and the results will come.” He may not be suave, sexy, or charismatic, but he’s got a heart of gold.