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By ESPN Staff

Spain's Xavi named as player of Euro 2008

Spain midfielder Xavi has been named the best player at Euro 2008.

The 28-year-old Barcelona player, the heartbeat of Spain's midfield during the tournament, was voted the Castrol player of the tournament by a nine-strong panel of UEFA's technical experts.

There was no place for Cristiano Ronaldo in the 23-man squad of the tournament however.

The squad did include Manchester United's keeper Edwin van der Sar, Michael Ballack and Jose Bosingwa from Chelsea, Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, and Tottenham-bound midfielder Luka Modric.

UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh explained Ronaldo's absence was due to the fact Portugal did not progress further in the tournament.

Roxburgh said: This is entirely about the tournament and not about reputations or how well you started.

'Of course he was mentioned - and if Portugal had gone further, there's no argument he has been in this group because he's a fantastic player.

'He was in our Champions League all-star squad for the season, and the beginning of the tournament he threatened he was going to be in this one.

'But then it came abruptly to an end. When it comes to a squad of the tournament, those that go to semis and final dominate things like this.'

UEFA's squad of the tournament:

Goalkeepers: Buffon (Italy), Casillas (Spain), van der Sar (Holland).

Defenders: Bosingwa (Portugal), Lahm (Germany), Marchena (Spain), Pepe (Portugal), Puyol (Spain), Zhirkov (Russia).

Midfielders: Hamit Altintop (Turkey), Modric (Croatia), Senna (Spain), Xavi (Spain), Zyryanov (Russia), Ballack (Germany), Fabregas (Spain), Iniesta (Spain), Podolski (Germany), Sneijder (Holland).

Striker: Arshavin (Russia), Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Torres (Spain), Villa (Spain).

Nine of the 23 players in the squad of the tournament were Spanish, but Roxburgh said Xavi stood out.

He added: 'We think he epitomised the Spanish style of play - he was extremely influential.

'We are not all that surprised, because for more than a decade now the top youth teams in Europe have been Spanish and we have been watching Xavi and others in this squad from a very young age.

'Torres scored the winner in a youth final, and Fabregas was the star of the under-17s. In this tournament, Fabregas' influence in the periods when he did play was extremely significant.'

Roxburgh added that Torres has proved himself one of the top players in Europe.

'Clearly he's a match-winner - he's a fantastic front player - very fast, powerful, brave and he's a finisher. His movement is excellent as well,' said Roxburgh.

'To say anyone is the best player in the world is a difficult one, but he is one of the big talents we have in European football.'

He also singled out Germany captain Ballack for praise.

'Ballack was a major influence on Germany all the way to the final and he scored the best set-play goal of the competition with his free-kick against Austria,' said Roxburgh.


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