The Best UEFA European Championship Moments – The Great Moments Leading up to the UEFA Euro 2020
Every championship has its highlight reels, some of them more, some less. Regardless, in the world of professional football, most of the highlights come either from European national teams or South American ones. The only countries who won World Cup titles are from Europe or South America, so it could reasonably be deduced that the best plays and moments will eventually come from some of those teams.
With the UEFA Euro 2020 looming around the horizon, the qualifications being well under way, it is worth remembering some of the greatest moments in the history of the UEFA European Championship. Here are the moments and championships you should rewatch.
UEFA European Nations’ Cup 1960 – Before it was Renamed to the European Championship
Some of the best moments come from the inception of this remarkable championship, back in its inaugural event, in 1960, when it was named the European Nations’ Cup. The name didn’t last very long and was changed to the UEFA European Championship in 1968.
During this championship, however, Yugoslavia played against France, two of the four teams which played at the inaugural tournament. France had a strong 4 to 2 lead but Yugoslavia managed to turn it around. They played away, so their three goals, scored in just under 4 minutes apart from one another, remain a gigantic feat in football. It is also worth noting that the 9 goals scored in that match are still a European Championship record for the most goals scored in a single match.
UEFA European Championship 1988 – Ireland Beats England
The Irish rivalry with the English is a common thing in sports, often celebrated by either side, and rubbed in the face of the fans of the losing side. While the 80s were also a decade in which one of the greatest football frauds, Carlos Kaiser, “played” his games, Ireland also played their game. The game was decided by a single goal from Irish player Ray Houghton. This match was ultimately pointless for both squads, as they were in the same group as the Netherlands and the Soviet Union, both of which made it to the finals. While neither the English nor Irish made it out of groups, the Irish took home a victory while the English only took home losses.
UEFA European Championship 2000 – The Decimation of Yugoslavia
This was one of the most painful championships for the Yugoslavian national team, which many fans remember as one of the saddest tournaments ever. After finishing second in their group, they proceeded to the quarter-finals (there were yet to be 24 teams during that time; 16 teams competed in the main event). In the quarter-finals, they met the Netherlands, who beat them 6 to 1. The Netherlands lost to Italy in the semi-finals, who in turn lost to France in the finals. The Yugoslavian team also lost to the Netherlands in the World Cup just two years prior to the 2000 Euros.
The year marked a very sad period for Yugoslavia in professional football and a very happy one for France, who took home a World Cup title in 1998 and a European title in 2000.
UEFA European Championship 2012 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic Loses
The English have had quite a hard time for a nation who is so football-oriented. They have a single World Cup title, from 1966, and nothing else. They have the most finals appearances in the UEFA European Championship, without ever winning a title. In 2012, however, they managed to win quite a nice and competitive match against Sweden. The match ended with 3 to 2 for England, with Danny Welbeck scoring the winning goal.
UEFA European Championship 2012 – Brutal Finals for Italy
If Sweden’s loss was bad and later the English loss to Italy seemed like it would be the peak of disappointment, the fans were yet to be surprised. The English must have loved this, but the Italians, probably not as much. The match against Spain in the finals was absolutely one-sided. Spain beat Italy 4 to 0. Finals are usually more competitive, but this one wasn’t even close to being such. The 2012 Championship was interesting in more ways than one, apart from Spain’s domination and the English disappointment.
UEFA European Championship Top Scorers
During the years, when football streaming was not available to everyone, statistics had to be obtained either on the internet, which was impossible until the early 2000s, realistically, for most people. Bookmakers and local sports magazines had all the statistics back then. Today, one can get everything online. Here are some of the UEFA Euro top scorers.
The 2000 Euro saw a tie between France and the Netherlands in most goals scored, 13 each. France also took the record in 2016, with the same number of goals as in the 2000 Euros. 2008 and 2012 was the time of the Spanish domination, with Spain holding both records, both times 12.
Yugoslavia was present on a match which had the most goals scored by both sides, in the inaugural championship. Their loss to the Netherlands, 6 to 1, in the 2000 Euros marked another record, the win with the highest margin, in the main tournament. The qualification tournament saw that record go beyond single digits, with Germany beating San Marino with 13 to 0.
UEFA European Championship Individual Top Scorers
Records by country are fun, but people really tend to favor a single player to an entire team. The most goals scored in the UEFA Euros by a single person was 9 goals by Michel Platini in 1984. Cristiano Ronaldo has a lot of goals, though they were scored across 4 different Euros, namely 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, amounting to a total of 9, which French player Platini managed to do in a single tournament. Consider that when discussing the greatest football players ever.
The UEFA European Championship has a lot of amazing moments and highlight reels. The upcoming Euros, in 2020, is set to be one of the most interesting tournaments, due to no automatic seeding from the host and while on the subject, multiple venues across 12 different countries, not to mention 55 participating countries. The 2020 Euros is going to add to the list of greatest moments, how much, we will have to wait and see.