The North Macedonia Euro 2020 squad for this summer has been revealed.
While many of the players will be relative unknowns to even avid football fans, there are a couple of familiar faces in the mix.
Leeds defender Ezdzan Alioski will attempt to shore up the back, while former Inter Milan Champions League winner Goran Pandev leads the line. Napoli's Eljif Elmas and Stuttgart's Darko Curlinov may be the next most recognisable names in the Euro 2020 squad.
They may not have the hardest group, with Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria in the group, but they would still be pleased to take a point from their three group stage fixtures.
North Macedonia Euro 2020 squad
- GK: Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano)
- GK: Damjan Siskovski (Doxa)
- GK: Risto Jankov (Rabotnichki)
- DF: Stefan Ristovski (Dinamo Zagreb)
- DF: Kire Ristevski (Ujpest)
- DF: Gjoko Zajkov (Charleroi)
- DF: Ezgjan Alioski (Leeds United)
- DF: Visar Musliu (Fehervar)
- DF: Darko Velkovski (Rijeka)
- DF: Egzon Bejtulai (Shkendija)
- MF: Ferhan Hasani (Partizani)
- MF: Stefan Spirovski (AEK)
- MF: Enis Bardhi (Levante)
- MF: Boban Nikolov (Lecce)
- MF: Tihomir Kostadinov (Ružomberok)
- MF: Elif Elmas (Napoli)
- MF: Arijan Ademi (Dinamo Zagreb)
- MF: Darko Curlinov (Stuttgart)
- MF: Marjan Radeski (Akademija Pandev)
- MF: Daniel Avramovski (Kayserispor)
- FW: Goran Pandev (Genoa)
- FW: Aleksandar Trajkovski (Mallorca)
- FW: Krste Velkoski (Sarajevo)
- FW: Vlatko Stojanovski (Chambly)
- FW: Ivan Trickovski (AEK Larnaca)
- FW: Milan Ristovski (Spartak Trnava)
North Macedonia Euro 2020 squad: Team profile
North Macedonia didn’t have a hope of qualifying traditionally, yet they took full advantage of UEFA’s generosity to reach their first major tournament as an independent nation. The decision to let a relatively weak national side come through the play-offs via League D in the Nations League was controversial, but the Macedonians were thrilled with their opportunity – and striker Goran Pandev was rewarded for his patience.
But aren’t we all in this for the romance? Pandev, 37, made his debut two decades ago and had considered retiring from international duty. He stayed put, and led his country to their greatest moment with a memorable winner against Georgia.
North Macedonia did finish third in qualifying, but it was a distant third, behind Poland and Austria. In the Nations League, however, they needed only to overcome Armenia, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein, then Kosovo and Georgia in the play-offs – both of whom, admittedly, were perhaps favourites – in order to make history. Pandev wept after scoring the winner in Tbilisi. A nation cried with him.
North Macedonia’s players know they’ve been lucky to reach Euro 2020. They did, though, show some promise in qualifying. Igor Angelovski’s charges won their home matches against the three teams below them – Slovenia, Israel and Latvia – and they were also unbeaten on their travels against that trio. Opposition this summer will be an entirely different proposition, and the Red Lynxes will simply be hoping to avoid souring their summer of love.
In all, they’ve shown togetherness and a strong will to fulfil this fairy tale. They’re no charity case, either. Pandev is a great leader; Napoli’s 21-year-old midfielder
Elif Elmas is a rising star who could grab attention; Levante schemer Enis Bardhi is a top dead-ball specialist; and Leeds wideman Ezgjan Alioski is inconsistent but also capable of brilliance. Finally, Stole Dimitrievski is a reliable goalkeeper who proved calm under pressure in his country’s most important fixtures.
North Macedonia are the weakest team at Euro 2020, but they’ve nothing to lose – and, as they proved in March with an incredible 2-1 World Cup qualifying win in Germany, they have the spirit and the skill to dish out some bloody noses. Whatever happens, though, simply being here is a victory. Anything else will be a bonus.
North Macedonia Euro 2020 squad: Who is North Macedonia's best player?
The versatile striker – mainly an attacking midfielder nowadays – moved to Italy in 2001, won the Champions League with Inter in 2010 and had some brilliant years with Lazio and Napoli either side. Pandev is arguably the greatest Macedonian star of all time, their most capped player and leading scorer by a huge distance.
North Macedonia Euro 2020 squad: Who is North Macedonia manager?
In charge since 2015, the 44-year-old is understandably popular, but his tactical skills
are still unproven and he is yet to find an optimal formation. The Skopje native has never managed a side outside Macedonia
North Macedonia Euro 2020 squad: Past Euros record
Euro 2020 is North Macedonia's first tournament: since gaining independence in the early 1990s, they have ever previously qualified.
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