Euro 2020: Goran Pandev given guard of honour in final North Macedonia game vs Netherlands

  • Kobe Tong

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Goran Pandev brought the curtain down on his international career at Euro 2020.

Pandev's illustrious career

It feels like an eternity ago that the legendary Macedonian won the treble with Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho, but he's continued to fly the flag for his country deep into his thirties.

Now 37 years old, Pandev made his international debut all the way back in 2001 and it wasn't until this summer that he got the chance to represent North Macedonia at a major tournament.

But 20 years in the international game culminating in a European Championship couldn't have felt more fitting and Pandev's team gave a fantastic account of themselves on the continent.

North Macedonia 0-3 Netherlands Highlight Show (Football Terrace)

A swansong at Euro 2020

Sure, North Macedonia lost all three of their games and were the first nation to be eliminated, but anyone who watched their performances will know that they went out on their shield.

With offside goals and a missed penalty populating their defeats to Austria, Ukraine and the Netherlands, there were plenty of moments that will have brought Macedonian fans to their feet.

And one such moment was Pandev saying his final goodbyes to the national team during North Macedonia's 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Monday evening.

While Memphis Depay's strike and Georginio Wijnaldum's brace might have dumped them out of the tournament with a defeat, the plucky underdogs still had time to give Pandev the perfect goodbye.

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Moving sendoff for Pandev

That's because the Genoa forward, who scored a fairytale goal in the opener against Austria, was given a guard of honour by his teammates when he was substituted in the 69th minute.

In a moment reminiscent of John Terry and Didier Drogba's goodbyes at Chelsea, the Euro 2020 clash stopped to ensure that Pandev bowed out of international duties in a blaze of glory.

After 122 caps for his nation across 20 years, it couldn't have felt more fitting for Pandev to take centre stage for at least a few seconds. Check out the heartwarming scenes in Amsterdam below:

When it comes to football in North Macedonia, Pandev is nothing short of royalty.

Royalty in North Macedonia

Speaking to BBC Sport, North Macedonia centre-back Kire Ristevski remarked: "Pandev is like a king for what he does. I cannot even explain what an amazing guy he is.

He always wants to help everyone, and from him we have seen things like from a legend.

"I think there is no-one like him in North Macedonia, as a player, and also privately. He is a communicative guy and wants to talk with everyone."

All that considered, it wouldn't be presumptuous to say that although Pandev has now played his final minute of action for North Macedonia that his impact across the nation will continue to be felt.

Whether that's a future career in coaching or simply serving as an inspiration for future generations, Pandev has set a new standard for a sporting nation that has done themselves proud at Euro 2020.

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