Euro Championship history

When you look at the European Championships as a whole before 2000 a few nations stick out as stand out performers, these of course are Spain, Germany, Italy, France… And strangely enough Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Both of these countries have performed well in the Championships. While only the latter has won a Championship between them in the post 2000 period they have finished in the top 4 in the tournament an astonishing 7 times.

Another team who deserve  a notable mention for this period has to be the Soviet Union/Russia as they managed to win the tournament once and come runner-up in a further 3 tournaments in 1964, 1972 and 1988.

However it was only after 1980 that more than 4 teams would qualify for the tournament, meaning that the qualification stages before then were even more difficult than they are now. After 1980 8 teams qualified for the tournament, after 1996 16 teams were then allowed to qualify for the tournament.

The earliest Championships in 1960 and 1964 were much more difficult than they are now, with political issues creeping into the mix. Such as Spain withdrawing from a match with the Soviet Union in the 1960 tournament due to political reasons, and allowing the USSR to reach the final and eventually win the competition. Greece in 1964 also withdrew from a match with Albania as at that point they were still actually at war with them.

The pre 2000 era though was one definitely dominated by the Germans, whether it was West Germany or a unified Germany they managed to pull of impressive victories in each tournament and won it in 1972, 1980 and 1996. Germany’s rival England appeared sparsely in the tournaments up to 1968 when they came in third place; their only other real achievement was reaching the semis on home soil since then.

The first few tournaments did not bring with them a lot of goals due to the small amount of matches, however in 1984 French footballer Michel Platini set the record for the number of goals scored at a European finals at 9 in the entire finals, a record which still has not been broken to this day, with the closest being Alan Shearer, Patrick Kluivert, Savo Milošević, Milan Baros and Marco van Basten on 5 goals.