The 24 teams that will take part in Euro2020 (which yes, is taking place in 2021) have been decided. From ever presents such as France and Germany, to debutantes Finland and North Macedonia, it;s set to be an exciting tournament. But what if there was a team 25? What if we had a wildcard squad made of the best of the rest? We’ve picked a 23-man squad from the 31 nations who will not be at the Euros. We have only picked players who are still active for their international side at the time of writing. We tried to spread the selections over multiple countries, some based on quality, some based on tactically building the squad. Here’s our ragtag group of footballers who in another world could try claim Euro glory.
Going with the mandatory 3 goalkeepers. Numbered 1, 12, 23, as they should be, none of this 13/22 stuff.
Jan Oblak (Slovenia)
The Slovenian captain first appeared for the senior side in 2012, two years after their appearance at the World Cup. It’s something of a crime that arguably the best goalkeeper in the World has never played in a major international competition. The Atleti keeper has great reflexes, is a master at reading play, and is an excellent shot stopper. He would make any of the 24 sides who are competing.
Thomas Strakosha (Albania)
Actually born in Greece, the Lazio keeper followed in his fathers footsteps and chose to mind the net for Albania. Named the best Young goalkeeper of the 201-18 season, Strakosha saved a penalty in Lazio’s win over Juventus in October 2017, which helped inflict Juve’s first Serie home defeat in over 2 years. Only 25 and standing at 193cm, the Albanian has been a key player in Lazio’s recent title challenge and would be a capable back up to Jan.
Darren Randolph (Republic of Ireland)
The first of a few Irish selections in what may be an act of familiarity bias. If the first choice goalkeeper is injured against Germany, we know who to call upon to keep a clean sheet. He provided the assist for Shane Long’s goal on that famous night in the Aviva, and has been Ireland’s number 1 since then. Despite not playing regularly for West Ham, Randolph rarely makes a mistake for Ireland.
Get ready for strong representation from the Emerald Isle.
Stefan Savić (Montenegro)
Having flattered to deceive at Man City, Savić had a career resurgence at Atletico Madrid, where he became the first Montenegrin footballer to play in a men’s Champions League final this century. He’s a regular for Atleti, one of the sternest defenses in Europe.
Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland)
The Donegal man is a leader among men who can run for the full 90. A horrific injury during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign meant he had to settle back into football, but he’s shown for Everton he is still capable of setting the bar high.
Berat Djimsiti (Albania)
The Atalanta center-back has established himself as a regular for the Serie A side that are more about attacking than defending.
Johnny Evans (Northern Ireland)
Another leader, a reliable center-back who can play on the left if needed. Still doing the business in the Premier League with Leicester City.
Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland)
An absolute rock, capable of jumping up front to head in a late winner off a set piece.
Enda Stevens (Republic of Ireland)
One of the best left backs in the Premier League, should have more Ireland caps. Adds an attacking threat from deep.
Matt Doherty (Republic of Ireland)
Hasn’t hit the ground running at Spurs, but his form at Wolves showed he’s a top wing-back.
Amir Rrahmani (Kosovo)
A fairly new Napoli player we included for a an interesting fact. Before Kosovo were a UEFA member, Rrahmani played for Albania in a friendly against Kosovo in November 2015 (Kosovo had been allowed to play friendlies). Rrahmani scored for Albania against the team he would go on to represent.
It’s an attack-minded selection
Sergej Milinković-Savić (Serbia)
A complete midfielder who is known as The Paul Pogba Of Serbia. Adept at defending and attacking, he’s been linked with a lot of big clubs. The Lazio man has football brains to spare.
Sander Berge (Norway)
Sheffield United’s record signing is a solid defensive midfielder.
Jack Byrne (Republic of Ireland)
The best player in the League of Ireland has to make the list.
Martin Ødegaard (Norway)
Signed as a young prospect by Real Madrid, the attacking midfielder has been tearing it up for Real Sociedad on loan.
Gylfi Sigurðsson (Iceland)
The Everton playmaker can create goals, but unfortunately won’t be doing so for Iceland at the Euros as they lost to 2 late goals against Hungary in the play-off final.
Josip Iličić (Slovenia)
One of the stars of an exciting Atalanta team. Can play on either wing, or through the middle.
Dušan Tadić (Serbia)
Another attacking midfielder who can also play upfront. A revelation for Ajax in recent years.
Giorgi Chakvetadze (Georgia)
A relatively unknown player who is an exciting prospect. Unlikely to get game time but good to give the young star a chance to feel the atmosphere of a major tournament. Currently playing for Gent, the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, and Bayer Leverkusen have shown interest.
The main men up front.
Erling Haaland (Norway)
It’s a travesty that one of the most exciting strikers in world football won’t be at the Euros! He was actually born in Leeds (who his father was playing for) but moved to Norway at the age of 3. At the age of 20 Haaland is already superb at spotting caps and drawing defenders. He can do the lone striker role without any hassle.
Aleksandar Mitrović (Serbia)
A capable goal threat to come on if needed. Voted player of the tournament at the 2013 European Under-19 Championships.
Alfreð Finnbogason (Iceland)
Scorer of one of Iceland’s most famous goals, the equalizer against Argentina in 2018 during their World Cup debut. Has scored 137 goals un 263 appearances for his various clubs.
Vedat Muriqi (Kosovo)
Signed for Lazio this season and became the first Kosovan player to play in the Champions League when he appeared against Borussia Dortmund. He’s a big beefy boy who can head the ball, but he’s also got buckets of pace.