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Niamh Horan: The 10 sexiest players to watch out for

When I was in primary school, we all had to stand up and say aloud what we wanted to be when we grew up. When it came to my turn, I announced to my class that I held lofty ambitions of being the official physiotherapist for the Manchester United team.

The teacher told me to sit back down, to a backdrop of laughter, but I was dead serious.

Alas, my hands-on career wasn't to be. But years later I've just been landed with the next best job. It's a tough gig but, with a large mug of coffee, I've been told to plough through the fittest men of the European Championships -- so you don't have to.

And you'll be happy to know there's not a sniff of the smarmy, greasy Cristiano Ronaldo getting near the list. What's with his cult following?

Although we'll never see the likes of Roy Keane's muscular thighs or Freddie Ljungberg's chiselled torso grace the competition again, the fresh bodies that are on show this year will be enough to ignite a passion for footie that you -- or the man in your life -- never knew you had!

And did I mention they can all go the full 90 minutes?

1 Olivier Giroud


Ooh la la, Olivier Giroud is so hot he'd make the Devil himself sweat. The sexiest player to come out of France -- and it says a lot to be handpicked from a nation of bronzed beauties. His nickname, 'le buteur de charme' (the charmed striker) is down to his good looks as much as it is his goal-scoring. With abs to die for, let's hope he scores so the shirt-twirling begins.

2 Gerard Pique


After checking him out from every angle, the golden-skinned, wide-eyed Spanish defender comes in at number 2. Sinfully good-looking, his only downside is that he is doing the 'Waka Waka' with Columbian superstar Shakira. With her screaming from the sidelines, it's almost enough to dampen our lust and have him red carded from the list. Almost. But his blue-eyed perfection won us over in the end. Let's hope he doesn't use those puppy-dog eyes on the ref.

3 Mats Hummels


The guy looks like he just stepped off the catwalk in Milan. Obviously the Great Almighty didn't think it was enough to bestow him with the gift of a world-class soccer player so threw in Calvin Klein model looks to boot. When you see him in action, you'll just want to raise your face to the sky, give the man upstairs the big thumbs-up and say 'well done'.

4 Jesus Navas


Women all over Europe breathed a lusty sigh of relief when this scandalously handsome specimen was cleared of a hand injury to play in the competition. His sexy, piercing, green eyes will make you weak at the knees. All Spanish players are hot by default but this guy is so damn good-looking you might end up switching teams.

5 Alex Tzorvas


This bronzed Adonis is too handsome for words. The Greek goalkeeper has refused to get his kit off for any underwear campaign. Rumour has it he's been rather blessed in the downstairs department.

6 Mario Balotelli


Every hot soccer list needs at least one Italian stallion and Mario is that beast. With an ego the size of a small planet, he can be forgiven for once being quoted as saying he is able to have any girl he wants. In fairness, could you blame him?

7 Robin van Persie


He is Holland's best hope of winning the championship and he's our best reason to stay glued till the bitter end.

With boyish good looks and a killer smile, it's no surprise to hear he's already been caught off-side but hasn't been red carded by the missus. Every hot list needs a bad boy.

8 Iker Casillas


Spain's goalkeeper left women all over the world weak at the knees when he grabbed his presenter girlfriend mid-interview to smack a kiss on her lips after winning the World Cup.

He holds the international record for the most amount of clean sheets -- something we certainly wouldn't leave him with by the time we were finished with him!

9 Kevin Doyle


Now, I don't usually do blondes but we'll make an exception for Ireland's number 9. The Irish frontman looks even better with a golden tan, so by the third game under the heat of the Polish sun, the 28-year-old will have you firmly hooked. It's men like this who are the reason they call it the beautiful game.

10 Hugo Viana


Known for wearing some pretty skimpy briefs under his white shorts, this midfielder takes the prize for the best derriere in the competition. There aren't many players who have pictures of their rear-end plastered all over the internet. But Google Viana bending over and you'll see just why he's the sweet exception.

Sunday Independent