The idea of an European Football Championship was first tabled in 1927 by French football administrator Henri Delaunay. After the founding of UEFA the idea was resurrected and in 1958 the first qualifying matches in a knock-out format were played, with the first tournament taking place in 1960. The competition, which was originally called the European Nations Cup, has been held every four years ever since.
Euro 2016: …
This summer the European Football Championship will be held in France. The tournament will feature an expanded number of 24 participating nations, affording Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Wales the opportunity to make their debut. World Champions Germany are the pre-tournament favorites.
Euro 2012: Spain
World champions and defending European champions Spain made it two Euro wins in a row, showcasing their trademark tika-taka football along the way. They beat Italy 4-0 in a one sided final after the Italians had surprisingly got the better of an up till that point impressive looking Germany in the semi-finals.
Euro 2008: Spain
In an exciting tournament, the host countries found themselves unable to progress beyond the group stage. Holland, Portugal, and Croatia were impressive early on, but all three crashed out in the quater-finals. In the end it was the Spanish that won the championship, after beating Germany 1-0 in the final.
Euro 2004: Greece
The Czech Republic seemed to be on their way to winning the Henri Delaunay trophy after strong showings against Holland and Germany in the group round, but found themselves ousted in the semi-final by Greece who would go on to defeat Portugal in the final. England made it as far as the quarter-finals.
Euro 2000: France
The tournament was co-hosted by two countries, Holland and Belgium, for the first time. Reigning world champions France added a European Championship to their trophy case, beating Italy in the final. England defeated Germany but lost it’s other games and did not progress beyond the first round.
Euro 1996: Germany
England fans sang about football coming home, but even home advantage wasn’t enough for England to win it’s first European Championship. Eventual winners Germany beat the hosts on penalties in the semi-final. Scotland went out in the group stage on goals scored, after tying with Holland for second place.
Euro 1992: Denmark
Never has a European Championship produced such a surprising winner as Denmark in 1992. The Danes hadn’t even qualified for the tournament. Their players had to be recalled from holiday when Yugoslavia was banned from the competition at the last moment, in response to the escalating conflict in the Balkans.
Euro 1988: Holland
Marco van Basten starred as a Dutch team also featuring Ruud Gullit and Ronald Koeman recovered from defeat in their first game to capture the trophy. Van Basten’s volley in the final stands as one of the greatest goals ever. England lost all three games, including the encounter with Jack Charlton’s Ireland.
Euro 1984: France
Michel Platini was in truly inspirational form as he almost single handedly helped hosts France to their first ever international trophy, scoring no less than nine goals in five matches, including one in the final against Spain. England nor any of the other home nations had made it trough the qualifying stage
Euro 1980: West-Germany
For the first time eight countries competed, but the tournament was marred by low attendances and negative tactics leading to a succession of dull matches. Belgium surprised friend and foe by upstaging Spain, England and hosts Italy in the group phase and reaching the final. West Germany ended up lifting the trophy
Euro 1976: Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia prevented a replay of the 1974 World Cup final by defeating Holland in the semi-finals. The Czechoslovaks went on to beat West Germany on penalties in the final, although it took the cheekiest of chipped balls by Antonin Panenka to get the better of legendary German goalkeeper Sepp Maier.
Euro 1972: West-Germany
What many consider the best German national team ever won the trophy with a seamless display of modern football. Featuring greats like Beckenbauer, Müller and Netzer, they had beaten England 3-1 at Wembley en route to the tournament and made short work of the Soviet Union in the final, winning 3-0.
Euro 1968: Italy
Home country Italy clinched the title at the third edition of the European Football Championship, but they made hard work of it. It took the Italians a coin toss in the semi-final against the Soviet Union and a replay in the final against Yugoslavia. England achieved their best ever result by finishing third.
Euro 1964: Spain
Having withdrawn in the quater-finals four years earlier after refusing to travel to the Soviet Union, Spain now found themselves playing host to the Soviets and even ended up playing the reigning champions in the final. The home side, starring Luis Suárez, won the match and captured the trophy.
Euro 1960: Soviet-Union
The inaugural UEFA European Nations Cup utilized a knockout format that culminated in four nations qualifying for a final tournament that was hosted by France. The Soviet Union, featuring such greats as Valentin Ivanov, Igor Netto, and legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin, ended up lifting the trophy.