Friday proved a memorable evening for a host of past and present internationals who received commemorative caps and medals from UEFA having amassed a century or more of national team appearances.
Former Greece players Theodoros Zagorakis and Angelos Basinas, as well as current captain Giorgos Karagounis, were among those honoured before Friday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers. Karagounis, who earned his 111th cap in Greece's 2-0 win against Croatia, had double cause for celebration, admitting it had been a "special night".
Basinas added: "It's a great honour for me to be presented with this award by UEFA. It's a tough task to reach 100 caps with the national team and I want to thank my family for always standing by my side."
Two other players were also honoured before taking to the field. Speaking after captaining Armenia to a 4-1 victory against Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which keeps their hopes of reaching the UEFA EURO 2012 play-offs alive, Sargis Hovsepyan said: "I'm really happy that I've played 124 matches for the national team. I would like to thank the coaches who believed in me and allowed me to play. When you pull on your national team shirt you feel real pride. Can you imagine how many times I've had this feeling?"
Unlike Hovsepyan, Miroslav Karhan can no longer dream about bowing out in Poland or Ukraine after Slovakia lost 1-0 at home against Russia – a defeat which brought an end to the 35-year-old's international career. "It wasn't a spontaneous decision," he said. "I said before qualifying that while the team had a chance to advance to the championship I would be available; now that's over along with my secret dream to say farewell next year."
Also recognised for their achievements on the international stage were former Turkey players Rüştü Reçber and Bülent Korkmaz. "To be remembered and not forgotten is a big honour," said ex-goalkeeper Rüştü. "I will keep these presents in pride of place in my house."
The likes of Karel Poborský, Dejan Stanković and Fernando Couto were also presented with UEFA keepsakes. "It was fantastic," said former Portugal defender Couto. "It was a very important tribute for me. It's the recognition of a career, and that is fantastic."
The full list of European international centurions is available on UEFA.com. Further presentations will take place on Tuesday, when UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying concludes, and at future national team games and other events across Europe.
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