Euro 2024 Unexpected Heroes XI: England beware Switzerland sleeper threat

Steven Chicken
Unexpected Euro 2024 heroes.
Unexpected Euro 2024 heroes.

Whether it’s been pulling one out of the bag at exactly the right moment, defying previous form, or just exceeding an already good reputations, there’s been plenty of players at Euro 2024 who have done more than expected of them this summer.

On the flipside, we also have Not Turned Up XI for you all to enjoy laughing at, so make sure you do.


GOALKEEPER: Mert Gunok (Turkey): That save though. That save. 


DEFENDER: Merih Demiral (Turkey): Former Juventus and Atalanta defenders don’t exactly come into a tournament as unknowns, but if you tell us you called that he would bag a brace to put Turkey through to the quarter-finals, you’re either a massive liar or…no, that’s the only option. He stopped poor old Christoph Baumgartner getting a tap-in at the other end shortly after his first goal against Austria, too. Dream stuff.

DEFENDER: Jaka Bijol (Slovenia): The rock in one of the most impressive defensive units in Germany this summer, helping Slovenia to keep clean sheets against England and Portugal. Shame that all the attention was inevitably on the opposition being rubbish more than on Slovenia actually just being really solid.

DEFENDER: Marc Guehi (England): Turns out all our fears about where England looked a bit weak were completely misplaced: their stars up top have largely been rubbish except in those big moments, while ‘first reserve Guehi has been their best player. It’s a funny old game, Saint.

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MIDFIELDER: Granit Xhaka (Switzerland): That Xhaka would be one of Switzerland’s most important players is not really unexpected, and after his incredible season at Bayer Leverkusen, we particularly doff our cap to Tickers for writing: ‘We’re all in on Xhaka completing one of the more absurd years in any professional football career by lifting the Henri Delaunay Cup in Berlin on July 14’. Come on though…even with high expectations, did you expect him to be this good?

MIDFIELDER: Fabian Ruiz (Spain): Another from our team of the tournament alongside Bijol, Ruiz also earns an entry here for one simple reason: his two goals for Spain this summer are more than he managed in Ligue 1 for PSG in the whole of last season, and has doubled his goalscoring tally for his country. His other two goals? Both against Northern Ireland the weekend before the tournament began. Josko Gvardiol, eat your heart out. Two assists on top of that ain’t shabby, either.

MIDFIELDER: Remo Freuler (Switzerland): One goal and one assist for a very good Bologna and a very bad Nottingham Forest in the past two seasons. One goal and two assists for Switzerland at Euro 2024 – including against Germany and Italy, no less. Decent. And, more importantly for our purposes here, a bit unexpected.


WINGER: Ivan Schranz (Slovakia): If England had not done a ridiculous, Schranz would have a genuine shout of claiming the Golden Boot this summer: he’s currently joint-top of the goalscorer charts after finding the net against Belgium, Ukraine and England. He had gone nine games without a goal for Slovakia before the tournament began, so it’s not like even they had all their hopes pinned on him.

READ: Jude Bellingham ‘witch hunt’ PROVED as ‘fun-sponge footie chiefs’ target England hero

WINGER: Cody Gakpo (Netherlands): Another where we’re being a bit squishy with our definition of ‘unexpected’, especially if you’re a Dutchman rather than a Liverpool fan: Gakpo scored three goals in five games at the last World Cup, after all. We’re including him anyway, though, because the pre-tournament Golden Boot odds rated Gakpo joint-13th at 33/1, level pegging with Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney and twice as long as Romelu Lukaku. After three goals, Gakpo’s now the favourite. Just play him wide, Arne.


FORWARD: Dan Ndoye (Switzerland): There’s worse times to get your first goal for your country than to open the scoring against neighbours and host country Germany, especially after managing just one in 32 Serie A appearances for Bologna last season.

FORWARD: Georges Mikautadze (Georgia): This is partly a reflection of just how well Georgia did at the Euros before being unfortunate enough to draw Spain in the last 16. But it was Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia we were all tipping to get the goals if Georgia were to shine, not Mikautadze…his three goals in as many games in the group stage (one in each game) were as many as he had managed in ten games in qualifying.