From Gazza to Panenka, Euro has been a tournament defined by some of the best players, and it’s never too late when we get another moment to remember. As the most-watched tournament only after the world cup, there are many reasons to be excited about this year’s competition.
Throughout all these years, there have been some moments that we remember like it was just yesterday. Quirky mascots, iconic players, the underdog wins, and a lot else have defined the international football competitions and European championship.
Here are the top 5 moments that we have witnessed in the European championship ever since its inception:
1. Birth of Panenka Penalty
Nothing defines the legacy of Euros more than the legendary Panenka. The icing on the cake was that this penalty eventually won the Czech nation tournament, sending West Germany home with all but a trophy.
As in the words of the man himself, I used to stay after training with our goalkeeper and practice penalties”. “Before going to sleep, I tried to think up ways of getting the better of him.’
“I got the idea that if I delayed the kick and then chipped it, a keeper who had dived could not recover in time. I tested it in practice, and it soon gained weight. I began using it in friendlies, then the league, and the culmination was when I used it at the European Championship.”
Nothing gives more pleasure than a successful Panenka; ask all the penalty takers worldwide, and they would tell you this. But, it’s not all cherries, as someone like Ademola Lookman would tell you. A missed Panenka looks as embarrassing as it can get, and you don’t want to see it again.
Back to the point, the birth of the Panenka penalty is one of the Euro’s gifts that keeps on giving. There could be some other great moments in Euros, and rightly so, but this has to be one on the top and defines the legacy of Euros.
2. Landmark for Denmark
In 1992, Denmark didn’t initially qualify for the final part of the tournament. However, amid the civil unrest and war in Yugoslavia, the country was disqualified from the Euros. Just one week from the tournament, Denmark was given a lucky note that said, “you are going to Sweden.”
However, this is not all, and this wouldn’t have been all to make it a ‘fairy tale.’ Denmark went on all the way and won the tournament, partially to its luck to begin with, and partially through the heroics of Manchester United’s legend Peter Schmeichel.
Midfielder Kim Vilfort later described it to BBC sport as “we had a great spirit. When we were under pressure against Germany, it was the spirit that helped us. We didn’t have the best players, but we had the best team.”
3. The Golden Goal
The 1996 Euros final was decided by the golden goal. A well-contested final was moved to extra time, and the stage was set for the 28-years old Oliver Bierhoff to come and score a golden goal. Because he didn’t make it to the starting lineup and came on as a substitute, he wrote his name in Germany’s folklore. It wasn’t long since then that he became a regular starter and captain of the German team.
With 1996 marking Germany’s first Euro win since reunification, it was also the first time a Golden Goal to decide Euros or any other football major tournament. It was, however, repeated by Trezeguet in the 2000 Euros final.
4. Greece Triumph
Against all the odds, the Greek team won the 2004 euros beating Portugal in its own backyard. It was made even more glorious when the Greek coach, Otto Rehhagel, broke into tears at the final whistle. As the folklore went in 2004 in Greece, they say that ancient Greece had 12 gods, and Greece of 2004 has 11.
Many team members of the Greek team would reflect on the unity that brought them to glory. They might not have had “superstars” badges with them, like many of their competitors, but they were tight-knit and hardworking. All these years later, Greece team players still get stopped in the street and on the roads by Greeks offering words of thanks.
5. Marco van Basten’s Volley
When the Netherlands took home their first European trophy, nobody could stop talking about the brilliant volley by no other than Marco van Basten. In the final against favorites USSR, van Basten struck the goal that would forever remain in Dutch football folklore.
In the fifty-fourth minute of the game, Muhren floated a beautiful ball towards a 23-years old van Basten. He found himself in a very tight angle against the goal but met the ball with such a ferocity that gave the soviet keeper no chance.
The European championship has given us tons and tons of moments to cherish. Some of them have gone down memory lane and has resided ever since. Our personal favorite is Denmark’s heroic and unexpected resurrection in the tournament.
And with that, we have a few questions in mind for you. Did we miss anything? What is your favorite moment from the European championship? Is it Eder’s goal in the final against France with Cristiano Ronaldo running along the touchline to motivate his team? Or is it anything else? Let us know about your thoughts in the comments section down below.