While the players naturally take centre stage, this is my team of pundits and journalists who have enriched the tournament so far.
1. Goalkeeper - David James OBE. BBC Match of the Day pundit. The Observer Sport section writer.
The 41 year-old former England goalkeeper is the refreshingly intelligent voice of the modern player and perhaps uniquely offers considered opinion from a man between the posts. He has come a long way since Nintendogate threatened to derail a Liverpool career already hampered by a somewhat unfair ’Calamity James’ tag yet his maturation to ultra-professionalism and latterly charity earned him the all-time Premiership appearances & clean sheets records and saw him named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. A man whose connections span not just the world of football but includes such exotic names as Giorgio Armani and the Miami Dolphins makes for an always informative and urbane insight into 21st century football. Perhaps time to hang up the gloves and concentrate on the media full-time.
2. Right Back - Mike Samuel, The Daily Mail
The ebullient former Times Sports Writer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Popeye’s arch-nemesis, Bluto, offers forthright and on-the-money views on all aspects of the modern game. Quick to the defence of those he feels wronged - an excellent piece on Spurs’ folly to let England’s nearly-man Harry Redknapp go and even consider Roberto Martinez whose team he vanquished 9-1 as a replacement - he has nailed his colours firmly to the England mast since donning the international shirt in this tournament. Noble and lionhearted, his patriotism is matched only by an urge to see England perform well : ‘Stop stumbling through, England, try the Autobahn’ and a keen desire to see us play the beautiful game in the right way.
3. Left Wing-Back - Miguel Delaney, Freelance : ESPN, The Independent
Various Speed-merchant whose nightly match-reports are produced with hard-to-believe efficiency. His Barcelona-Chelsea Champion’s League Semi-Final match report was weblished before the final whistle finished its shrill and the quality of delivery is as good as any in the game. The Ashley Cole of journalists - fast, technically superb and a brilliant all-rounder - he is the rising star of the Irish football writing world and not to be overlooked as Trappatoni did Ireland’s in-form players McClean, Long and Gibson on the pitch.
4. Libero - Guillem Balague, SKY Sports
No serious European line-up is complete these days without a Spaniard and the suave figure and cultured analysis of Balague on SKY is one already familiar to the British public. His multi-lingual talents extend to his fantastic website http://www.guillembalague.com/ with his own blog, exclusive interviews with some of the most revered figures in the game and solid Euro-analysis yet hopefully like the Spanish national team, spreading himself too thin this year could prove his downfall.
5. Defensive Rock - Jamie Carragher, ITV, The Telegraph
"We just need a bit of lllluuucckkkkkggggghhhhh" to win the tournament and in Captain Stevie Gerrard’s best mate, ITV have struck gold. Potentially Euro2012's Gary Neville yet not quite as coherent, confessed football obsessive 'Carra' forces his way into the line-up with a Frankness that Anne herself would be proud of. His thick Scouse accent makes for interesting listening as does his willingness to pull no punches. So far so good, a staunch voice of good old-fashioned patriotism in studios strewn with Irish, Scottish & Continentals. England’s 24th squad man.
6. Midfield Bulldog - Roy Keane, ITV
Every teams needs a hard man and Keane is the terrier in my Euro XI. As fierce in the reply in the studio to innocent Adrian Chiles questions as he was in the tackle on the pitch as a player, he still manages to represent Ireland’s greatest threat in a major tournament, winding fans, players and the reigning boss up alike despite not having played for the international team for seven years. Surely Ireland’s next serious football manager.
7. Right-Wing - The Wing Commander - ‘When Saturday Comes’
’The last living remnant of the British Empire’ - whose patriotic views are a joy to behold as he trashes England’s Euro opposition to maintain our global supremacy with a stiff upper lip. Starting in a more traditional role staunchly on the right wing for ‘When Saturday Comes‘, this veteran of many a tournament provides incendiary alternative match reports peppered with politically-incorrect yet nonetheless hilarious xenophobia, “They say that the only good Frenchman is a dead Frenchman but even this is untrue. Given their hygienic tendencies in life, in death their stench would be even more frightful.” A veritable archive exists of past match reports in the shape of writer David Stubbs’ ‘Send Them Victorious’ book which chronicles the period of internationals 2006-10, especially enjoyable in this Great British Jubilee Year. Follow him @SendVictorious.
8. Playmaker - Alan Pardew, BBC 'Match of the Day' The Independent
THE Manager of the Year winning both the LMA and Premier League titles simultaneously, Pardew is a man with his finger firmly on the pulse of modern football. Equally adept in the dugout, the Match of the Day studio or behind a laptop writing his Independent column, this classy, eloquent and determined English manager offers fresh and insightful view on all aspects of the game. Respected by players, managers, pundits and fans alike he is the rising star of English football and surely destined to be a future England manager once he brings silverware back at long last to Newcastle United. His superb knowledge of the game is matched by an astonishing attention to detail, as Geordie Legend Alan Shearer quoted, “He called Pirlo’s free-kick” (vs. Croatia). Rumoured to be writing the forthcoming ‘50 Shades of Black and White’, I can’t be the only one who gets aroused when the Bronzed Silver Fox of Tyneside talks about “Controlling football matches” in that sexy Cockney twang. TV Gold.
9. False Nine - Duncan Jenkins, www.goal.com
Superlatives are not enough for Goal.com’s latest recruit, plucked from relative Twitter obscurity to make his mark on the big stage at Euro 2012. Self-professed “perspiring journo”, playing in his favourite false nine position, Jenkins refreshingly eschews the traditional constraints of grammar, punctuation and spelling in an artistic freestyle form addressed to his ‘mates’ everywhere to evoke a joyous expression not seen in the beautiful game since Baddiel & Skinner in their Fantasy Football prime. His massive influence on global football was confirmed when the reigning World and European Champions Spain employed ‘false nine’ Cesc Fabregas in their opening 4-6-0 line-up, a clear doffing of the tactical cap from Vicente del Bosque to the even Specialer One lurking with his trademark chicken sandwiches in the press-room. Genius.
10. Goalscorer - Gary Lineker, BBC, ‘Match of the Day’
Love him or hate him, Lineker's still got It. His wit undoubtedly sharpened by his Twitter duels with Piers Morgan & son George keeping him in touch with the words on the street, only England's second-top scorer of all-time could get away with using the word 'Sick' in as cheesy a manner as Walkers ever produced. "Murder on the Gdansk floor" rescued the flagging Match of the Day team like a comeback penalty against Cameroon and latter-stage tournament experience might still them see off ITV's stern challenge this year for terrestrial viewer supremacy. End-product.
11. Captain - Danny Fullbrook, (1972-2012), The Daily Star
Last but by no means least, the late, great former Chief Football Writer of The Daily Star, Danny ‘Fearless’ Fullbrook, who lit up the football world. A sad loss for the beautiful game.