They have ruled world football for more than a decade and the Euro 2008 would be their last chance to bow out on a high. HT profiles some of the veterans who still possess what it takes to compete with youngsters.
Alessandro Del Piero
This golden boy of Italian football has been out of the national team after they won the 2006 World Cup. But his 21 goals in the Serie A campaign for Juventus prompted national coach Roberto Donadoni to hand him a recall. At 33, Del Piero, used as a substitute in the World Cup, will get another chance.
France's most-capped player, the 36-year-old defender has won everything that there was on offer, from the World Cup to the Euro Cup. A contemporary of Zinedine Zidane, he retired once after the 2004 World Cup only to return a year later, guiding the side to the runners-up place in Germany. A pillar in defence for club and country, he will be looking to end the World Cup disappointment with a winner's medal.
(France, defensive midfielder)
Even at 35, Makelele remains a strong force in the midfield, sitting deep and blocking the opposition attacks with crunching tackles. The Makelele role, as it is known in England, has become an integral part in every coach's plans. Ask Real Madrid, for they would know better, having struggled to fill that role ever since he left in 2003.