Major football tournaments produce moments of magic. In past European Championships, there have been moments of exceptional quality. Whether they are split seconds of individual brilliance or team efforts leading to surprise tournament wins, the Euros has produced some of football’s most sensational entertainment over the past six decades.
5. Panenka Wins it For Czechoslovakia (1976)
Underdogs Czechoslovakia took overwhelming favourites West Germany to penalties in the 1976 Euros final after a 2-2 draw after extra time.
It seemed like there would be just one winner when the match went to penalties. Both sides held their nerve before Uli Hoeness missed, launching his spot-kick over the crossbar.
Antonin Panenka stepped up for the decisive spot-kick. Panenka held his stare at Sepp Meier, sprinted towards the ball, sent Meier down the left and dinked the ball into an empty net.
Panenka won the Euro 1976 title for Czechoslovakia with an audacious piece of skill. Ever since, world-class players have attempted to recreate his technique to varying degrees of success.
4. Platini’s Semi-Final Heroics (1984)
Michel Platini put in one of the greatest individual performances for France at the 1984 Euros. He won the Golden Boot with nine goals in five matches, the most goals of any player to feature in the tournament.
Platini’s heroics in the 3-2 semi-final win against Portugal highlighted his importance for Les Blues.
The sides drew 1-1 in normal time, and the game was heading towards penalties after both teams scored either side of halftime in extra time.
In the 119th minute, the ball fell to Platini six yards out, and he lashed in the winner, sending France through to their first ever Euros final. Platini was the hero again in the final, scoring the opener in a 2-0 win against Spain.
3. Spain 4 Italy 0 (2012)
In 2012, Spain had a world-class squad including Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, David Villa, Carlos Puyol and Iker Casillas. These superstars had won Euro 2008 and the 20120 World Cup and played a part in helping La Rioja record a record third consecutive major tournament win in 2012.
Spain met Italy in the final, a side they drew 1-1 against in the group stages. But Vicente del Bosque put Italy to the sword, out-passing, outplaying and out-witting their opponents in the final.
David Silva and Jordi Alba put Spain ahead in the first half. Fernando Torres and Juan Mata secured victory with second-half goals to complete one of the best ever final performances in the Euros.
2. Denmark 1992
Nine days before the 1992 Euros, Yugoslavia were banned from competing in the tournament.
Denmark earned a surprising call up, and their lack of preparation showed. They drew 0-0 against England and lost 1-0 against Sweden in their opening games. But a shock 2-1 win over France saw the Danes qualify for the knockout stages.
Denmark continued to hold their own, drawing 2-2 with previous Euros champions the Netherlands and winning 5-4 on penalties.
They faced another massive challenge against Germany in the final. Richard Moller-Nielsen’s were underdogs, but John Jensen scored early to give the Danes a shock lead. A second-half goal from Kim Vilfort secured one of the most unlikely Euros wins of all time.
1. Greece’s 2004 Victory
Greece completed another shock Euros win in 2004. Greece had never won a match in a major tournament before the competition but defeated Portugal 2-1 in their opening match.
They then progressed from their group with a better goal difference than Spain, despite drawing a losing their last two group matches.
Otto Rehhagel’s then shut up shop in the knockout stages, winning 1-0 against France, the Czech Republic and Portugal in the final to complete one of the biggest underdog stories in football history.
The 2020 Euros is finally here and with so much attacking talent on show, we hope to see some more special goals.