European Championship is the biggest stage to show up your talent, especially for the players who are unheard or are less famous in the footballing world. Let us have a look on the best 5 unheard players who have already made a mark in the tournament (EURO 2016):
5) Ledian Memushaj, Albania:
Ledian Memushaj is an Albanian professional footballer who plays for Italian club Pescara and the Albanian national team. Albania made their debut in the European Cup this year. No one really expected much from the team. However Albania were impressive despite their short stay in the tournament.
Following two losses against Switzerland and France, Albania faced Romania in their final game. Both still had a glimmer of hope of making it to the knockout stage. Albania recorded their first goal and first win of the European Championship in their history as they won the match 1-0. Major credits for Albania’s win has to be given to Ledian Memushaj. Not only in that game, Memushaj was brilliant throughout the tournament.
Albania finished 3rd in the group and were denied a place in the round of 16 only on goal difference by Portugal. Well there is nothing to be ashamed off for Albania. Albania, especially Ledian Memushaj, gave a lion heart performance in the tournament. Memushaj is a midfielder who has creativity as well as an immense positioning sense. Memushaj is already 29, but still hope persists that he can join a better club following his beautiful display in the Euros.
4) Kari Arnason, Iceland:
Iceland have been the story of the Euros so far. A country with a mere population of 330,000 is showing the whole world how being fearless can give you success. Drawn in a group with Portugal, Austria and Hungary, nobody predicted that Iceland will qualify for the next round. To everybody’s surprise Iceland went on to top the group.
Kari Arnason has been the standout player of Iceland so far in EURO 2016. Many might disagree with me on this. Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Þór Halldórsson has been impressive as well but for me Arnason has been Iceland’s best player. The 33 year old, Malmo midfielder has given 3 stellar performances in the group stages. He has been a dynamic presence in the midfield for Iceland. This player has always played for the smaller teams in the smaller leagues but he is certainly abjuring all challenges at the top level too. Iceland face England in the round of 16. If Iceland have to have any chance in the match, Kari Arnason has to be at his best just like the last 3 matches.
3) Micheal McGovern, Northern Ireland:
Northern Ireland qualifying to the EURO 2016 was itself a surprise. If that was not enough, them qualifying to the knockout stage ahead of Ukraine should make you believe that North Irish football has developed by leaps and bounds. And one player who has been key to their success is their goalkeeper Micheal McGovern.
Northern Ireland started their EURO 2016 campaign against Poland with a 1-0 defeat. McGovern made 2-3 crucial saves in the match. They won the second match against a superior Ukrainian side. McGovern kept a clean sheet in the match. NIR faced Germany in final group stage match. This was the match where McGovern came to limelight. Despite losing the game 1-0, McGovern made a number of brilliant saves. Germany could have thrashed and crumbled all Northern Ireland’s hopes of qualifying, if McGovern was not in his best of forms.
NIR face Wales in the round of 16. Certainly McGovern will have to play a key role if NIR are to progress. Currently McGovern is without a club. So, here is a piece of advice to all the clubs who are looking a goalkeeper – sign this player as soon as possible before he moves to any other club. McGovern might be 32, but his recent performances in EURO 2016 say he still has a lot of football in him.
2) Ondrej Duda, Slovakia:
Slovakia have qualified to the knockout stages of EURO 2016 where they face the world champions Germany.
There are 2-3 good known players in the team such as Marek Hamsik, Martin Skrtel and Vladimir Weiss. But one player who has impressed a lot for Slovakia in the tournament is Legia Warsaw’s attacking midfielder Ondrej Duda. Duda has got the pace, the skills as well as the vision to find his teammates in a dangerous position. Duda is nicknamed as Dudinho and Ondrej di Maria due to his pace and trickery by his teammates.
Ondrej Duda has been impressive in all 3 matches in the EURO 2016 for Slovakia. Adding to this Duda is just 21 years old. Surely a big club transfer is not far away for him if he continues to perform like this. Let’s see if Duda can continue his impressive run against Germany which is undoubtedly his biggest test. All the best Ondrej Duda!
1) Bartosz Kapustka, Poland:
When you hear about Poland National Football Team, what is the first name that strikes your mind? Yes no doubt it’s Robert Lewandowski. But it has been a surprise that the Bayern Munich striker has not had much to his name in EURO 2016. The two players who have been showing exquisite displays for Poland are Arkaduisz Milik and Bartosz Kapustka.
As Kapustka is a less heard name as compared to the Ajax centre forward, I have added him to this list. The Cracovian midfielder has shown some stellar performances in the tournament especially in the game against Northern Ireland. He played in the left side of the midfield. Kapustka has got a flair to his game. He can play in the hole just behind the striker as well as on the left side of the midfield. Kapustka was a second half substitute against Germany and was equally impressive against Ukraine in Poland’s third and final game. There are few rumors that Kapustka is being tracked by Southampton. Personally, I would love to see him in the Premier League. Hopefully we will see more of Bartosz Kapustka in the near future.
There are many unheard names that have made a mark in EURO 2016. But I had to choose only five. These are the 5 best players who fit this list according to me. Hopefully your list and my list will have a few players in common. Please share your views in the comments below!