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10 Astonishing Moments that Shocked the Euros

10 Astonishing Moments that Shocked the Euros

6 June 2024

Connor Banks

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The UEFA European Championship, commonly known as the Euros, has delivered some of the most unforgettable moments in football history. From underdog victories to dramatic last-minute goals, here are ten of the most surprising moments that have left fans in awe over the years.

1. Marco van Basten’s Incredible Volley (1988)

In the Euro 1988 final, Marco van Basten scored an extraordinary volley from an almost impossible angle against the Soviet Union, securing the Netherlands’ first major international trophy. This goal is widely regarded as one of the greatest in the tournament's history. Van Basten's strike from the edge of the penalty area was a masterclass in technique and confidence, highlighting his exceptional talent and solidifying his place in football lore.

2. Denmark’s Fairytale Win (1992)

Denmark's journey to victory in Euro 1992 is a classic underdog story. Initially failing to qualify, they were given a spot after Yugoslavia's disqualification due to civil war. Against all odds, Denmark defeated Germany 2-0 in the final, capturing their first major international title. Led by coach Richard Møller Nielsen and featuring standout performances from Peter Schmeichel and John Jensen, Denmark's unexpected triumph captivated the football world.

3. David Trezeguet’s Golden Goal (2000)

France’s triumph in Euro 2000 came courtesy of David Trezeguet’s golden goal in extra time against Italy. This dramatic finish not only secured France’s second European Championship but also highlighted the thrilling nature of the now-defunct golden goal rule. Trezeguet's powerful volley into the roof of the net was a fitting end to a tournament that saw some of the best attacking football in Euros history.

4. Greece’s Shock Victory (2004)

Greece pulled off one of the biggest surprises in football history by winning Euro 2004. Entering the tournament as 150-1 outsiders, they stunned the football world by defeating hosts Portugal 1-0 in the final. Angelos Charisteas’ header sealed a victory that emphasised tactical discipline and team spirit, orchestrated by German coach Otto Rehhagel. Greece's defensive solidity and effectiveness on set pieces proved unbeatable.

5. Spain’s Dominance (2008 and 2012)

Spain’s back-to-back victories in Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 showcased a golden generation of footballers playing mesmerising tiki-taka football. Their 4-0 demolition of Italy in the Euro 2012 final was particularly stunning, marking Spain as one of the greatest teams in football history. Players like Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Iker Casillas were central to Spain's unprecedented success, which included winning the 2010 World Cup

6. Michel Platini’s Goal Scoring Prowess (1984)

Michel Platini scored nine goals in Euro 1984, a record for a single tournament. His performance was pivotal in leading France to their first European Championship. Platini’s scoring spree included two perfect hat-tricks, highlighting his exceptional talent and leadership. His ability to deliver in crucial moments set the standard for future midfielders.

7. Panenka’s Iconic Penalty (1976)

Antonín Panenka’s cheeky chipped penalty in the 1976 final shootout against West Germany not only secured Czechoslovakia’s first European title but also introduced the world to the now-famous “Panenka” penalty. This moment of audacity has been imitated countless times but remains uniquely iconic. Panenka's penalty is remembered as a bold statement of creativity and confidence in football.

8. England’s Penalty Heartbreak (1996)

Euro 1996 saw England’s hopes dashed in the semi-finals against Germany at Wembley. After a 1-1 draw, the match went to penalties, where Gareth Southgate’s miss handed Germany the victory. This match is remembered for its intense drama and the painful sense of missed opportunity for England. The emotional rollercoaster experienced by fans and players alike has made this match a poignant chapter in English football history.

9. Portugal’s Triumph Against the Odds (2016)

Portugal’s unexpected victory in Euro 2016 was marked by resilience and tactical astuteness. Despite losing their star player Cristiano Ronaldo to injury early in the final against France, a late goal in extra time by substitute Eder secured Portugal’s first major international trophy. Eder’s stunning strike from a distance was a moment of individual brilliance that capped off Portugal’s determined campaign.

10. Italy’s Redemption (2020)

Italy’s win at Euro 2020 was a story of redemption after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Facing England at Wembley, they came back from an early deficit to equalise and eventually won 3-2 on penalties. Gianluigi Donnarumma’s heroics in the shootout were crucial, earning him the Player of the Tournament award. This victory marked Italy’s return to the top tier of international football, highlighting their tactical discipline and mental toughness.

These moments encapsulate the excitement, unpredictability, and sheer drama that the Euros consistently deliver, making it one of the most cherished tournaments in the world of football. Whether it’s a stunning goal, an underdog victory, or a dramatic penalty shootout, the Euros never fail to captivate and inspire football fans around the globe.

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