Despite an indifferent performance in the final, World Cup hero and master playmaker Zinedine Zidane was instrumental in getting his side there - and fully deserves his accolade as player of the tournament.
He created two goals in the 3-0 victory over Denmark, and also impressed against the Czech Republic before being rested for the meaningless Group match with Holland.
He put France on course for a quarterfinal victory over Spain with a brilliant free-kick goal and in the semifinals Zidane kept his nerve after four minutes of Portuguese protests to convert the Golden Goal penalty that won the match.
Luis Figo (Portugal)
The buccaneering Figo was the incarnation of the attractive Portuguese football that took them to the brink of a first major final at senior level.
After Portugal were left in the starting blocks conceding two early goals against England Figo galvanized his side with a brilliant solo goal to provide the base for a 3-2 victory.
His pin point free-kick against Romania was headed in by Costinha for the goal that qualified Portugal for the last eight and then he set up both goals on a plate for Nuno Gomes in the 2-0 quarterfinal win over Turkey.
Patrick Kluivert (Holland)
Joint Euro 2000 top scorer with Yugoslavia's Savo Milosevic on five goals - in fact he briefly topped the standings with six goals before UEFA justifiably decided to take one of his four 'goals' against the Yugoslavs away.
Kluivert also managed to get through the tournament without the disciplinary troubles that have dogged him on previous big occasions.
The 23-year-old's new found maturity was illustrated in the semi-final with Italy when he missed his side's second penalty but volunteered for service in the shoot-out where he was the only Dutchman to score.
Alessandro Nesta (Italy)
Epitomized the combative spirit of the Italian defense that helped the 'Azzurri' confound expectations and reach the final.
The Lazio defender marked Kluivert out of the match in the semifinals with his one blemish the crafty tug on the orange shirt that led to Holland's first unsuccessful penalty attempt.
But Nesta's assured performances have now established him as the natural successor to legendary defender Franco Baresi at the heart of the Italian defense.
Edgar Davids (Holland)
Davids, wearing his trademark goggles, directed operations for the 'Oranje' and his influence grew with every match.
Like his team he started quietly in the opening match with the Czech Republic, where the Dutch were on the receiving end until a late Frank De Boer penalty gave them victory against the run of play.
His competitiveness was illustrated by his wholehearted approach to the group game with France, which neither team needed to win.
He was outstanding in the 6-1 quarterfinals drubbing over Yugoslavia and also shone in the semi-final match with Italy but it was not to be for the joint hosts.
Savo Milosevic (Yugoslavia)
Joint top scorer on five goals with Kluivert although his participation in the tournament was ended at the quarter-final stage by his side's elimination - Milosevic also earned a UEFA Fair Play award for rescuing French referee Gilles Veissiere from irate Yugoslav fans.
His feat is all the more remarkable since Yugoslavia only won one match. First he came off the bench to score twice as a substitute as his 10-man team came back from 3-0 down to snatch a 3-3 draw with rank outsiders Slovenia.
He followed that up with the decider - a clever backheel - against Norway and also was on the mark in the defeats by Spain and Holland. Had Predrag Mijatovic scored after being brilliantly set up by Milosevic when the score was 0-0 against Holland it might have been a different story – (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)