History of European Championship Football Tournament

Every few years major football tournaments are held all over the world. These tournaments are viewed all over the world with some of the well-known ones being the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, Copa America, and others with high viewer counts and fans all around the globe but none of these tournaments have roots embedded so deep in the history of Europe as the “UEFA European Football Championship” or “UEFA European Championship” or its widely used name “The Euro Cup”. The Euro Cup was the brainchild of Henri Delaunay who presented the idea for a pan-European football tournament in 1927 while serving as the Secretary-General for the French Football Federation. While the idea was presented in 1927 the game itself, unfortunately, started in 1958 three years after the death of Henri Delaunay. The foundation of the Tournament was laid on 15TH June 1954 and Henri Delaunay served as its first General Secretary till his death. He was later succeeded by his Son Pierre Delaunay. The tournaments are held with a four-year gap in between them much the FIFA World cup. Since the start of the tournament itself, the winners have been Spain (3 times in 1964, 2008, and 2012), Germany (3 times in 1972, 1980, 1996), France (2 times in 1984 and 2000), Greece (2004), Soviet Union (1960), Italy (1968), Denmark (1992), Portugal (2016), Czech Republic (1976) and Netherlands (1988). Spain has been the only country in history to have won two consecutive tournaments in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

In 1960 the Tournament was held in Paris, France which had four teams competing in it and was won by the Soviet Union who beat Yugoslavia in a spectacular 2-1 game where Milan Galić scored a goal just before half-time but came to a tie soon after, extra time was given to determine the winner and with a beautiful header from Viktor Ponedelnik won the match for the Soviet Union with minutes left on the clock. Spain withdrew from the match due to political protest against The Soviet Union in the Quarter Finals of the tournament. Notable absentees during the Tournament were England, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. The next tournament was held in Spain in 1964, four years after the previous game in which Spain beat the previous tournament winner The Soviet Union in a 2-1 game at Madrid. The game was already at 1-1 in the first few minutes but the winning shot was by Marcelino Martínez Cao who settled the game (2-1). Greece withdrew from its match against Albania due to the ongoing war between the two countries.

In 1968 the tournament was hosted by Italy at three separate venues in Rome, Florence, and Naples. This was the second time in the history of the European league that the host country had won the tournament with the first one being Spain. It was also the first time and only time when a match was decided on a coin toss, which Spain won while playing against the Soviet Union. The final a was sent to a replay after a match against Yugoslavia went into a draw (1-1) which later resulted in Spain winning in a landslide (2-0). Belgium hosted the Fourth UEFA European Championship in 1972 from the 14th to the 18th of June. This tournament was a breath of fresh air for West Germany as they won against The Soviet Union at the Heysel stadium, Brussels, with an absolute jaw-dropping 3-0 on the scoreboard and an amazing performance from Gerd Müller and Herbert Wimmer. This performance would later result in West Germany winning the 1974 FIFA World Cup with notable players also present from the 1972 EURO Cup playoffs.
The last tournament in which only four members had played was held in Yugoslavia from 16th to 20th of June in 1976. Czechoslovakia won the tournament by defeating the Netherlands in the semi-finals (3-1) and the final against the former titleholders West Germany. The final match resulted in a draw between the two (2-2) which then went into a newly introduced penalty shootout where they beat West Germany (5-3). Antonín Panenka made history with his famous chipped shot which was described as “perhaps the most famous spot kick of all time” winning the match.

Once again hosted by Italy in 1980 the UEFA European Championship took place with this time there being 8 teams instead of the previous four. Germany went onto the finals by taking on Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, and Greece with scores 1-0, 3-2, 0-0. In the finals, Germany faced Belgium with a score of 2-1 with the two goals from Horst Hrubesch winning the 1980 finals. Four years later in 1984 France hosted and won the European championship. Being the host country France automatically passed the qualification rounds. France played a total of five matches and their captain Michel Platini had a score of a total of 9 goals across these plays. France played against Portugal in the semi-final to progress to the finals and won (3-2). France played against Spain in the finals and scored two goals in the second halftime with the goals by Bruno Bellone and Michel Platini, with 2-0 on the scoreboard France won the tournament all while making history as Michel Platini scoring 9 goals in a single tournament. In 1988 West Germany hosted the tournament which Netherland won. West Germany and Netherland are national rivals. West Germany lost to the Netherlands in the semifinals with 2-1 on the board. Netherland then went onto win the Finals against the Soviet Union with a 2-0 score. Rudd Gullit scored in the first half and shortly after the start of the second round Marco van Basten scored with a volley.

The ninth UEFA European tournament began on 10 and 26 June 1992 with Sweden as host. This was the first tournament where a unified Germany played, the Soviet Union dissolved, and also the first time when player names were printed on their backs. In the qualifiers, Yugoslavia was disqualified as the conditions of the country worsened and was on the brink of war. Denmark won the tournament after a final with the two-time champions now a unified Germany with John Jensen and Kim Vilfort securing two goals ending the game with a 2-0. From 8 to 30 June 1996 England hosted the 10th EURO tournament with this time 16 teams participating in the tournament. For the first time, a unified Germany won the tournament after a final with the newly formed state of the Czech Republic beating them 2-1. Patrik Berger scored the first penalty for the Czech Republic but soon after Oliver Bierhoff followed with a goal for the Germans sending the game in extra time for the golden goal, Oliver Bierhoff again scored winning the tournament.

The UEFA Euro 2000 was held by two countries, Netherlands and Belgium being the first tournament to be held by two countries. France won the tournament by defeating Italy with a 2-1 score. With 1-0 between the game and Sylvain Wiltord scoring in the last minute of the game sending the match into extra time where David Trezeguet delivered the winning blow. In 2004 the state of Portugal hosted the tournament where Portugal played against Greece and lost 1-2 in the opening match and later again in the finals where they once again lost to Greece with 0-1. Previous title holders were defeated in the opening matches and Greece won its first champion’s title. Four years later in 2008 Austria and Switzerland hosted the tournament with Spain playing in the final against Germany. Fernando Torres from the Spanish side scored a goal winning the final against Germany (1-0) and the tournament. In 2012 Poland and Ukraine hosted the tournament. Spain won the tournament again after a win against Italy in the final to a 4-0. Spain becomes the first-ever country to have been awarded the title twice in a row.

France held the 2016 tournament with this time 24 teams playing. This was also the third time that France had been hosting. The final however was won by Portugal against the host country France when Ederzito António Macedo Lopes scored the winning goal in the last minutes of the second half resulting in a 1-0. Portugal had won their first title. All this now leads into the 2020 EURO championship which was to be hosted across several cities in Europe but the tournament was however delayed to June of 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has already shut down several other tournaments. The decision was placed to give space and help stop the spread of the pandemic even further.

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