The History of the European Football Championship

Nov 23 08:52 2010 Dave Bartholomew Print This Article

After the World Cup, the UEFA European Football Championship is the premier crowd puller in world football.

The last tournament,Guest Posting held in 2008 and jointly hosted by Austria and Switzerland was attended by over 1.1 million people with billions more watching on television.

The idea for a European international football tournament was first put forward by Henri Delauney of the French Football Federation way back in 1927 but it did not get started until the 1960 tournament held in his honour in France with the trophy named after him.

Seventeen teams entered the tournament but only four played in the finals competition in France. The inaugural competition was won by the Soviet Union who beat Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final in Paris.

Incredibly, the semi-final of the 1968 tournament, hosted by Italy, was won by the toss of a coin after the Italians and Russians could not be separated in normal play. Italy went on to win the final beating Yugoslavia 2 - 0 in a replay.

A group stage was introduced in 1980 with the leading team of each of two groups contesting the final which West Germany won to take their second European title.

France won their first major international tournament in 1984 taking the title be beating Spain 2 – 0 in the final. On the way, captain Michel Platini scored and incredible nine goals in five games and he remains the tournament's all time top scorer. Platini is now the President of UEFA.

Denmark were surprise winners in 1992, only gaining a place in the finals after, then warring, Yugoslavia were forced to withdraw. The Danes shocked favourites and holders Holland in the semi-finals, knocking them out on penalties and then went on to beat world champions, Germany 2 – 0 in the final.

As hosts, England reached the semi-finals at Euro 1996 only to crash out against Germany in a penalty shoot-out. Euro 2004 produced the the biggest shock winners as a workmanlike Greece side overcame odds of 150 – 1 against when the tournament started to defeat favourites Portugal in the final 1 – 0.

Spain triumphed over Germany in the final of Euro 2008 and are now both World and European Champions and they head towards Euro 2012 as clear favourites to be the first to retain the UEFA European Football Championship.

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Dave Bartholomew
Dave Bartholomew

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