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Euro Whites: Fernando Hierro

4 July 2016 profile one of Spanish football's greatest ever players as our summer series throughout Euro 2016 continues

One of Spain's greatest ever players,'s summer series continues as we profile a Real Madrid legend and Wanderers cult hero who represented La Roja at two European Championships.

SPAIN (1989-2002) 

European Championships: 2 (EURO 1996 AND EURO 2000) 
Best Stage Reached: QUARTER-FINALS 

Tournament Appearances: 6 
Tournament Goals: 0

A legend for club and country, Real Madrid icon Fernando Hierro finished his career with Bolton Wanderers in 2004/05 at the age of 37, having helped the Trotters qualify for Europe for the first time. 

Equally capable at centre-back or in midfield, the Spaniard had been handed his international debut 16 years earlier against Poland, having just signed for Real Madrid at the time. 

A squad member at the 1990 World Cup, Hierro’s first international goal came a year later against Albania in a Euro 1992 qualifier, though Spain would ultimately miss out on qualifying. 

After appearing, and scoring, in the 1994 World Cup, he then scored four times to help Spain qualify for Euro 1996. 

An ever-present for Spain in the tournament, Hierro completed all 90 minutes in each of their group games against France, Bulgaria and Romania as they set up a quarter-final clash with hosts England. 

However, it would prove to be a day to forget for both him and Spain as they lost 4-2 on penalties to Terry Venables’ side with Hierro hitting the crossbar from the Spaniards’ first kick. 

After a group-stage exit in the 1998 World Cup, despite scoring against both Nigeria and Bulgaria, Hierro inherited the captain’s armband from Andoni Zubizarreta heading into Euro 2000 qualification. 

Now utilised as a centre-back, he still scored five goals in qualification as Spain reached the finals in Belgium and the Netherlands for his second European Championships tournament appearance. 

Having played against Norway and Slovenia, a thigh injury saw Hierro miss arguably the game of the tournament as two stoppage time goals saw Spain come from behind to beat Yugoslavia 4-3 in their final group game, to not only qualify but snatch top spot as well.

Facing World Cup champions France in the quarter-finals, injury once again forced Hierro to sit out proceedings.

Spain were knocked out of the competition in his absence, goals from his future Real Madrid colleague Zinedine Zidane and future Wanderer Youri Djorkaeff securing a 2-1 victory for the eventual tournament winners. 

The then 34-year-old again captained Spain at the 2002 World Cup, scoring twice in the group-stages against Slovenia and Paraguay, before also converting his spot-kicks in La Roja’s round-of-16 penalty shootout victory over Republic of Ireland and quarter-final defeat to co-hosts South Korea. 

Calling time on his international career after the tournament having won 89 caps, Hierro also went into the record books as Spain’s then-record goalscorer with an incredible 29 goals.

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