Golden Players: best individual players of the UEFA Futsal European Championships

Golden Player is an award, presented since the first UEFA Futsal Euro in 1996. This prestigious award is presented to the individual who has left the greatest impression during the championship. We are unveiling the best individuals of the past UEFA Futsal Euros. We have to wait for the new Golden Player until the UEFA Futsal Euro 2018, which will be held in Slovenia, from 30 January to 11 February.

Ricardinho, Miguelín, Kike … to name a few of the great futsal names, which are a part of this elite company. Who are other players who have left the biggest mark in the UEFA Futsal Euro’s history?

UEFA Futsal Euro 2016 (Serbia): Miguelín (Spain)

Miguel Sayago, better known as Miguelín, started representing the Spanish national team at the UEFA Futsal Euro 2012, as a replacement for the injured Fernandao. Two goals in his first two appearances promised a great career in the national jersey. This was confirmed 4 years later, when Miguelín was picked out as the best player of the UEFA Futsal Euro in Serbia.

He acted as a true leader on the pitch and helped with goals and assists, leading Spain to another victory at the UEFA Futsal Euro. With six goals Miguelí also shared with his teammate Mario Rivillos the Golden Shoe award, given to the best scorer of the championship.

Interestingly, Miguelín made his debut in the national team in a match against Slovenia, which Spain won 4:2, exactly 6 years before the start of the UEFA Futsal Euro 2018 in Slovenia.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2014 (Belgium): Gabriel Lima (Italy)

After an initial defeat against Slovenia (2:3) it seemed it would have been hard for the Italians to repeat their success from 2003, when they won their first European title on their home soil. But in the next match, the Italians and their team captain Gabriel Lima presented themselves in a better light and outplayed Azerbaijan with 7:0.

A close win against Croatia in the quarterfinals (2:1) brought the Italians Portugal in the semis. Gabriel Lima took the initiative, scored twice and was the decisive factor as the Italians progressed to the final. Gabriel Lima put himself in the spotlight with the first goal of the match against Russia in the final, Italy won 3:1 for their second title, and Gabriel Lima was crowned Golden Player of the tournament.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2012 (Croatia): Kike (Spain)

Russia was in the lead 34 seconds before the final whistle was blown in the final of the tournament in Croatia, when the Spaniards Lozano and Borja scored three times (2 goals in the aftertime) and brought Spain another victory. One of the key-players that contributed to the success was Kike, at the time 34 years of age, together with the goalkeeper Luis Amado a pillar of the Spanish defence.

Kike showed tremendous leadership skills on the pitch and proved reliable with imaginative playfulness when beginning Spanish attacks. His zeal and fighting spirit were not left unnoticed and he became the Golden Player of UEFA Futsal Euro 2012.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2010 (Hungary): Javi Rodríguez (Spain)

Captain of the Spanish national team Javi Rodriguez announced his retirement from the national team at the UEFA Futsal Euro in Hungary. And he retired in style! He scored 5 goals and was tied the Golden Shoe award for the best scorer. His spectacular backheel goal in the final helped Spain to another victory against Portugal (4:2).

This was the last of the 99 goals he scored for the Spanish team in his 159 appearances. Javi Rodriguez was always an integral part of the team who ascended the European throne in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2010 and won their only two world titles in 2000 and 2004.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2007 (Portugal): Ricardinho (Portugal)

Portugal brought two futsal milestones in 2007. One was organizing the UEFA Futsal Euro and the other, presenting Ricardinho to Europe and the world. He became one of the best players in this sport. As one of the youngest in the Portugal national team, and still a teenager, Ricardinho played nearly 40 minutes of every game and lost in the quarterfinals against the future champions Spain after penalty shootout.

Portugal was fourth in the end but Ricardinho’s amazing effort brought him the Golden Player award, which was unprecedentedly not presented to the player of the winning team.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2005 (Czech Republic): Luis Amado (Spain)

Spain won their third European title and the key player for the success in the Czech Republic, which hosted the 5th edition of the UEFA Futsal Euro, was their goalkeeper Luis Amado. Amado continuously set new guidelines for futsal goalkeeping technique.

He drove Ukrainian players crazy in the semifinals after not letting them score and Spain earned their place in the final with the convincing 5:0 victory. Luis Amado produced another amazing goalkeeping performance in the final against Russia. Russia scored only once, which was not enough for Spain and their goals from Andreu and Cogorro.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2003 (Italy): Vinicius Bacaro (Italy)

Vinicius Bacaro is another representative of the Brazilian school of futsal, who made his mark in Europe. The naturalized Italian decided the final in Italy with a precisely executed free kick and brought the home crowd and players their first European victory.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2001 (Russia): Javi Sánchez (Spain)

Javi Sánchez was the first Spanish player with 100 appearances for the national team. He was Spain’s biggest star at the UEFA Futsal Euro in Moscow. The final betweem Spain and Ukraine was not decided in 40 minutes, with the score tied at 1:1. In overtime Javi Sánchez stepped onto the scene. He beat the Ukrainian goalkeeper in his second attempt and after the golden goal rule Spain won their second European title.

UEFA Futsal Euro 1999 (Spain): Konstantin Eremenko (Russia)

Konstantin Eremenko’s contribution to the Russian national team will be hard to surpass. He scored amazing 44 goals in only 17 UEFA acknowledged performances.

At the UEFA Futsal Euro in Spain Russia won their first and only title. Eremenko contributed the lion’s share to the Russian victory by scoring the unbelievable11 goals in 6 matches.

UEFA Futsal Euro 1996 (Spain): Paulo Roberto (Spain)

Paulo Roberto is a Brazilian who marked the European futsal in its beginnings. With his family roots in Spain he moved to the Iberian Peninsula in 1988 and obtained Spanish citizenship in 1991.

It did not take long for Paulo Roberto to make a name for himself and he became the main figure of the first UEFA Futsal Euro. He helped his new country to the title in Cordoba, on average scoring more than once a match.