Wednesday 17 January 2018

This Euro 2016 squad stat does not bode well for Ireland's chances this summer

Jack de Menezes

It's official - Ireland have the oldest squad travelling to Euro 2016 while Roy Hodgson's England side have the youngest.

England's addition of 18-year-old Marcus Rashford not only capped a remarkable three-month rise from Manchester United youth player to England international, but brought the average age of the squad below 26 years old when the tournament gets underway on 10 June.

Rashford will be the youngest player at the Euros at 18 years and 214 days, with the next youngest player being Bayern Munich’s new Portuguese signing Renato Sanches, who is two months older than the Manchester United striker.

In total, seven of Hodgson’s 23-man squad will be under the age of 23 in Rashford, Dele Alli [20], Raheem Sterling [21], John Stones, Eric Dier, Ross Barkley and Harry Kane [all 22].

The England squad will be the nation’s youngest to head to a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup, although it may not be such a bad thing given that reigning world champions Germany are the next youngest squad with their average just a few days older.

In stark contrast, Ireland will head to France with the oldest squad, with the likes of striker Robbie Keane and captain John O’Shea, both 35, bumping up their squad average age to 29 years and 297 days. Ireland's squad contains just one player - Cyrus Christie - aged 23 or younger and worryingly, Ireland also had the oldest squad at Euro 2012, when they were comprehensively beaten in all of their group games.

However, the oldest player in this year’s tournament hails from Hungary, with former Crystal Palace, Burnley and Fulham goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly poised to become the oldest ever player in European Championship history if he plays. The 40-year-old could break the current record held by Germany’s Lothar Matthaus, who appeared in Euro 2000 at the age of 39, although Kiraly last featured in an international tournament at the 1998 World Cup – also in France.

Independent News Service

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