Euro 2020 is rapidly approaching, with the market suggesting that favourites England, France, and Belgium will be among those competing for the trophy. Ahead of the tournament, we’re taking a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the most iconic moments has conjured up during its 61 years of competition, including Denmark and Greece’s unlikely triumphs, Paul Gascoigne’s brilliant solo goal, and Spain’s era of European dominance.
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#10: England suffer penalty heartbreak at Wembley
As Baddiel and Skinner’s Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home) became the soundtrack of Euro 1996, penalty drama became the recurring theme of host nation England’s tournament. Terry Venables’ team initially beat Spain on spot-kicks in the quarter-finals, in a shootout that famously witnessed Stuart Pearce elatedly celebrate retribution for his previous miss at the 1990 World Cup.
England were also taken to penalties in their semi-final against Germany as a partisan Wembley Stadium watched on, but on this occasion it ended in anguish as current England manager Gareth Southgate had his penalty saved by Andreas Kopke.
#9: Antonin Panenka’s famous penalty wins Euro 1976
One of the most famous penalty kicks ever is next in our top 10. Antonin Panenka shocked the world when he boldly chipped the ball in the centre of the goal to score the winning penalty for Czechoslovakia against West Germany in the Euro 1976 final.
The move has since become known as the ‘Panenka penalty’ and has been imitated time and time again, but never in more audacious circumstances than a major international final. Will we see any Panenka penalties at Euro 2020?
#8: Marco van Basten’s volley lights up Euro 1988
Speaking of the audacious; Netherlands forward Marco van Basten wrote his name into European soccer folklore with his 54th minute volley against the Soviet Union in the Euro 1988 final.
Ruud Gullit had put the Netherlands ahead in the first half, but as van Basten watched Arnold Muhren’s pass float to what looked like an impossible angle, he wound back his right foot to secure the trophy in spectacular fashion.
#7: The golden goal of Euro 1996
The first ever international tournament final to be decided via the ‘golden goal’ rule was between Germany and the Czech Republic at Euro 1996.
Patrick Berger initially gave the latter the lead with a second-half penalty, but Germany substitute Oliver Bierhoff became a national hero by netting both the equaliser and extra-time golden goal winner to serve as the ultimate super-sub!
#6: David Trezeguet completes France’s comeback
Four years on, a golden goal was required again to decide the Euro 2000 final between France and Italy. Italy initially took the lead through Marco Delvecchio’s effort, which looked as if it would be the only goal of the game.
However, France manager Roger Lemerre then introduced Sylvain Wiltord and David Trezeguet, who scored a 93rd minute equaliser and golden goal winner respectively to secure a stunning turnaround and ensure France backed up their World Cup win in 1998 with another trophy.
The golden goal rule provided some unforgettable moments, but this was the last European Championship final it would be used in.
#5: Paul Gascoigne’s iconic goal and celebration
England and Scotland have been drawn into the same group at Euro 2020, which will be their first meeting at the tournament since their match at Wembley 25 years ago, starring many mercurial talents.
Of these, it was England’s Paul Gascoigne who was responsible for both one of the most compelling goals and images of the competition. ‘Gazza’ chipped the ball over Scotland defender Colin Hendry with his left foot and then duly volleyed the ball into the bottom corner with his right, before celebrating with the infamous ‘dentist chair’ routine.
#4: Hal Robson-Kanu’s moment of magic stuns Belgium
Hal Robson-Kanu was a free agent heading into Euro 2016, but returned from the tournament as an unlikely hero of Wales’ unforgettable summer. Chris Coleman’s side progressed to the quarter-finals to set up a match against Belgium, which Robson-Kanu turned on its head with the score locked at 1-1.
The forward unleashed an expertly executed Cruyff turn that bamboozled the Belgium defence before calmly slotting the ball past the helpless Thibaut Courtois. Sam Vokes added gloss to the victory with a header to make it 3-1 to Wales, but it was Robson-Kanu that caught everyone’s attention.
#3: Spain dominate Euro 2012
While Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona had been suitably ruling club football for several years prior, Spain’s revered tiki-taka approach arguably hit its prime for Euro 2012, peaking with their victory over Italy in the final.
Spain finished as the 4-0 winners following a clinic in the art of passing, moving, and interchanging, which even saw left back Jordi Alba get on the scoresheet, while cementing their dominance in international soccer with a third straight major tournament win.
#2: Greece defy the odds at Euro 2004
Many suggest that Leicester City’s Premier League title in 2016 was the greatest fairy tale soccer has ever seen, but Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph is the first of two candidates with a valid argument to suggest otherwise.
Unfancied from the outset, they impressively progressed from a difficult group featuring hosts Portugal plus Spain and Russia, before overcoming holders France in the quarter-finals and securing their spot in the final with a silver goal at the expense of the Czech Republic.
They faced Portugal again in the final, when their wildest dreams were realised as Angelos Charisteas scored the only goal of the game.
#1: Denmark fail to qualify for Euro 1992 – and then win it
Greece’s triumph can perhaps only be bettered by the Denmark team who didn’t even initially qualify for the Euro 1992 finals in Sweden, but earned a spot after Yugoslavia were expelled from the tournament.
After beating the Netherlands on penalties in the semi-finals, it was Germany who stood between them and a title that seemed literally impossible to win only a month prior. Denmark went on the attack in the final and emerged 2-0 victors to complete one of the most unique upsets in soccer history.
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