Soccer fans in Europe -– and even beyond -– will be glued to their TV sets over the next month as European countries face off in a tournament to find the continent’s best national soccer team. Like in Hollywood, star power will play a key role. THR looks at some of the soccer stars who will show their skills in Euro 2012 and casts the A-listers who should play them in the big screen version of the Euro Cup.
Most European soccer fans cast the Netherlands winger Arjen Robben in the role of villain. Billed as arrogant and selfish, the “Dutch Diva” is the player everyone (except the Dutch) loves to hate.
Italian Coach Cesare Prandelli and Steven Seagal
Speaking of villains, Italy’s manager Cesare Prandelli has a whole squad of them. A growing match-fixing scandal in Italy has implicated several of the players on Italy’s Azzurri side and even led to a suggestion by the Italian Prime Minister that Prandelli should pull his team out of the Euros entirely.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricky Martin
With pin-up boy good looks and skills to match, Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo is Euro 2012’s superstar. In his day job with Spanish team Real Madrid, Ronaldo often has to play Salieri to the Mozart of the world’s number one player, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. But the Argentine Messi won’t be at the Euros, leaving the stage free for Ronaldo to shine.
Franck Ribery and Jean Reno
Franck Ribery’s story of street kid to multi-millionaire footballer is a classic rags-to-riches tale – something Emile Zola would be proud of. But French fans turned against Ribery after he helped lead a players “strike” against France’s coach during the 2010 World Cup. Ribery wants to become the hero of his ownstory again and is looking to Euro 2012 to rewrite the script.
Gianluigi Buffon and Benicio del Toro
Italian team captain and legendary goalie Gianluigi Buffon has also been cast in the uncomfortable role of bad guy with allegations he made millions in illegal bets with a local bookie. But it could be a good omen. Ahead of the 2006 World Cup, Buffon was also implicated in an illegalbetting scandal. He went on to lead Italy to victory.
Ireland Coach Giovanni Trapattoni and Ed O'Neil
Italian-born Giavanni Trapattoni is the Steven Spielberg of soccer coaches, having won pretty much every trophy out there, including the World Cup. This year, the man who used to bring holy water to key games managed the miracle of coaching Ireland to its first European Cup playoffs in 24 years.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daniel Day Lewis, and Johnny Depp
The wild man, Swedish captain and goal machine Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is Sweden’s only hope of being anything but a bit player in this year’s Euros. But like any diva, “Ibra” will have to keep a lid on his infamous temper. And keep his sharp elbows and his deadly feet (he’s also a taekwondo black belt) to himself.
Mario Gomez and Crispin Glover
His fans call him “Super Mario” but the Euros have proven his kryptonite. As the 2008 Euro Championships, Gomez failed to find the back of the net once, making him a laughing stock across the continent. The Gomez story of great promise crippled by angst is so properly Germanic it seems perfect for a Werner Herzog documentary.
Mesut Ozil and Steve Buscemi
His teammates at Real Madrid call him “Nemo” but Mesut Ozil’s bulging fisheyes aren’t his only distinctive quality. The German midfielder is the ultimate supporting player – he led the Spanish league in assists last season – and is one of the main reasons many expect Germany to win it all.
Fernando Torres, Zac Efron, and Michael Cera
Once seen as the golden boy of Spanish soccer – fans still call him El Nino, the Kid - striker Fernando Torres scored the winning goal at the last Euro final. But the Kid has had a rough time lately, going nearly a year between goals at home team Chelsea and only just breaking a similar dry run with Spain’s La Selección with a goal against South Korea May 30th. Euro 2012 will show if El Nino is a one-hit wonder or a superstar worthy of the name.
Wayne Rooney, Shrek, and Jason Statham
After Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, English striker Wayne Rooney is arguably the biggest name at Euro 2012. But he’s a temperamental star. When English fans booed a lackluster performance by Rooney’s side during the 2010 World Cup, he turned to a TV camera and snapped at the fans at home. Rooney is banned for the first two Euro Cup matches, so his might not have long to shine at this year’s tournament.
Wesley Sneijder and Justin Chambers
The only Euro Cup player with a direct Hollywood connection: Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder, considered by many the best free-kick specialist in the world, is married to actress Yolanthe Sneijder-Cabau, who appears in Michael Bay’s new film, Pain and Gain alongside Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson.