Manchester United are one of the titans of the football world, loved, hated and feared in equal measure by fans. Home to some of the world’s most famous players for decades, there were plenty of times when some of the team’s international stars became public enemy number one for knocking their teams out of major tournaments.
At this summer’s tournament, 12 players from the squad were picked to play for their national teams, making them once again one of the most represented clubs in the tournament. Of these, three won the star of the match award, a feat no other club has managed to equal in this year’s event.
Thanks to his impressive performance during England’s clash with Germany, Manchester United captain Harry Maguire is the club’s only player for the England national team to have won the accolade. With his strong defence against the German team, it was seen as a vital comeback for the star, who missed the final games of the 2020-21 season.
Betsson’s social tracker, which charts the popularity of sports stars via social media mentions, helped to back this up. Although Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, his goal-scoring teammates, dominated the conversation post-match, he soared to the top of the tracker via social media mentions and interactions.
Towards the end of the tournament, another Man United defender on the England team was number one. Luke Shaw had a perfect 10.0 social tracker score for the number of social mentions among his 2.25 million twitter followers.
This comes as no surprise, with the 25 year old emerging as one of the team’s secret weapons. He provided three assists in the competition and scored a sublime goal in the final against eventual champions Italy.
Marcus Rashford spent more time on the subs bench than on the pitch, unfortunately, his final sub appearance ended in heartache as he missed a crucial penalty in the shootout in the final. The final Man United player named for the England squad was Dean Henderson, who, unfortunately, has had to sit out the tournament due to injury.
And although he never played for the team, spending most of his time as a professional footballer at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa, it should be noted that Manchester United remains close to manager Gareth Southgate’s heart. He recently revealed that the team was who he supported while growing up.
The two other Manchester United players to have picked up star of the match trophies are France’s Paul Pogba and Sweden’s Victor Lindelof. The Swedish defender was the first Man United star to pick up the accolade during the group stages of the tournament, for his performance in the team’s 0-0 draw with Spain. A day later, Paul Pogba was awarded the star of the match title for his display in France’s 1-0 victory against Germany.
Both France and Sweden disappointed, ultimately failing to make it past the Round of 16.
Elsewhere, Donny van de Beek was named in The Netherlands’ national team but was forced to pull out due to injury. Real Madrid are hoping the team can transfer the player in exchange for Raphael Varane.
Portugal’s team featured a grand total of nine players based at English clubs this year. Of these, Manchester United’s number 18 Bruno Fernandes was seen as a key man prior to the tournament, but he failed to make his mark as his side lost to Belgium, also in the Round of 16.
Spain and England were the only two teams with Man United players to advance as far as the semi-finals. However, De Gea didn’t make an appearance as Athletic Club’s Unai Simon was the favoured player between the posts.
As for the other national teams, Scotland midfielder Scott McTominay represented Scotland during the tournament. They got a positive result at Wembley but were unable to get past the group stage.
The Welsh team enlisted both Daniel James and Dylan Levitt in their 26-man squad. Wales made it to the 2016 semi-finals but weren’t as lucky this time around. They advanced past the group stage but were knocked out in the Round of 16 in a humiliating 4-0 loss to Denmark.
Not all of Man United’s squad were able to make an impression during the tournament – but the club has reaffirmed its reputation as one of the most dominant in football.