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TBT: European Championships – 6 Memorable Moments

Following the start of qualification for Euro 2016, this week’s Throwback Thursday looks back at some of the most memorable events of previous European Championships.

While the tournament may not hold as much glamour and draw as a World Cup, it is much loved throughout Europe and has provided a lifetime of memorable moments. Karl Graham discusses.

#6 Denmark win Euro 1992

Number six on the list is Denmark’s surprise triumph during the 1992 European Championship, held in Sweden. The fact that Denmark were given just a week’s notice of their participation in the tournament – due to Yugoslavia’s civil war – added to the fairy-tale feeling of their win.

Their lack of preparation, along with being put into a tough group containing France, England and Sweden, saw them cast as rank outsiders.

An opening 0-0 draw with England followed by a 1-0 defeat to Sweden left them needing a win over France, and an English loss to Sweden, to qualify. Denmark achieved the results they needed and would get the chance to take on reigning champions Netherlands.

Danish midfielder Kim Vilfort, who missed some of the tournament due to his young daughter’s battle with leukemia, summed up their performances when he said:

“We couldn’t fail because there were no expectations. If we lost 5-0 three times then that would not have mattered.”

The semi-final was an extraordinary game with both sides scoring twice during 90 minutes. A goalless extra-time saw the match go to penalties, with the Dutch side heavy favourites. However, after the first nine penalties were converted, the pressure was put on the shoulders of legendary striker Marco Van Basten. Peter Schmeichel saved his penalty to become a hero of Danish football and send his country to the final.

The recently unified Germany would be their opponents in a much anticipated encounter. John Jensen scored the opening goal in the 18th minute and with Schmeichel again performing heroics to keep Germany at bay, Vilfort doubled their lead with just 11 minutes remaining.

The Germans were too shocked to reply and unfancied Denmark became the European champions.


#5 Coin toss decides Euro 1968 semi-final

If you think deciding the outcome of a match via a penalty shoot-out is a little unfair, then imagine how you would feel if your team or country were denied victory due to the toss of a coin.

Citizens of the Soviet Union experienced this heartbreak after their side were knocked out of Euro 1968 by Italy. After 120 minutes of football, neither team had managed to score and with FIFA yet to adopt penalty shoot-outs, a coin toss would be the deciding factor.

While a coin toss is not something that would usually get you excited, this sounds like the most dramatic one of all-time.

The only people present for the coin toss were the captains, USSR manager Gavriil Kachalin and President of the Italian Football Federation Dr. Franchi. A UEFA official first produced a Spanish coin but Kachalin objected so he produced a Dollar. After objecting once more, Kachalin produced a Ruble but Dr. Franchin was having none of it.

Thankfully, the stand-off was ended when one the referee’s assistants produced a Dutch Guilder and the coin was tossed. After hitting the floor, it rolled through the shower door and under a grate.

Coin toss take 2!!

A replacement Guilder was produced and the process repeated. ‘Tails’, Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti proclaimed before bursting out the door. His screams of joy were enough to tell Italian supporters in the stadium that they were going to the final.

The final also ended in a tie but this time Italy won after a replay.


#4 Greece win Euro 2004

While Denmark caused a shock by winning Euro 1992, it was nothing compared to the feat Greece pulled off 12 years later. Their style of football may not have been the most entertaining but their defensive solidity and tactical astuteness had to be admired.

They caused their first upset when they qualified from the group at the expense of Spain and Russia. A meeting with France in the quarter-finals was expected to end in a comfortable win for the defending champions. However, the Greeks kept the clearly frustrated French at bay, before snatching a win through Angelo Charisteas’ bullet header.

A goal in extra-time against the Czech Republic gave them a 1-0 win and sent them through to the final against the hosts. Portugal was the next team to suffer at the hands of Greece and earned the unwanted record of being the first host nation to lose in a European Championship final. A third 1-0 win in a row, all from headed goals, had given Greece their unlikely victory.

Some critics may claim they won the tournament due to the failings of others, but the Greeks don’t care and neither do the other underdogs they have inspired.


#3 The Panenka of 1976

There are very few people in this world who can claim they had a footballing term named after them. One such person however, is former Czechoslovakia attacker Antonin Panenka.

Many of you will know what the Panenka penalty is due to modern day stars such as; Andrea Pirlo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sergio Ramos. However, not many of these stars can claim to have performed it under such pressure.

Panenka chose the Euro 1976 final to introduce the world to his talent. The game had reached a penalty shoot-out after Czechoslovakia and West Germany played out a 2-2 draw. West Germany missed their fourth penalty and up stepped Panenka. After a long run-up, he feigned shooting to the side of the goal and waited for the keeper to dive, before deftly chipping the ball down the middle.


#2 Gazza’s goal against Scotland

Paul Gascoigne has never been a shrinking violet but his antics during the run-up to Euro 1996 drew more criticism than even he had experienced before. While the incidents that drew the criticism can’t be condoned, without them we wouldn’t have one of the most memorable celebrations of all-time. Oh and the goal was pretty good too!!

England was taking on Scotland during their second game of the group. Alan Shearer put them 1-0 up shortly after the restart but almost instantly sat back. Scotland took advantage and began to lay siege to David Seaman’s goal. It all resulted in a penalty to Scotland after Tony Adams tripped Gordon Durie.

The penalty was saved and England had soon doubled their lead. Gazza received the ball from Darren Anderton just outside the Scotland penalty area. He threw a bit of a dummy to Colin Hendry before flicking the ball over his head with his left foot. Hendry was left bamboozled and could only watch from the floor as Gascoigne waited for the ball to drop before volleying it with his right foot past Andy Goram.

Cue the “dentist’s chair” celebration. After scoring, Gascoigne acknowledged the media’s criticism of him by laying on the ground as if he were sitting in the dentist’s chair, while other England players sprayed lucozade into his mouth.


#1 Van Basten’s goal at Euro 1988

Trying to pick between Gazza’s wonderful goal and this marvellous strike by Marco Van Basten was not an easy decision. However, the difficulty and audacity of Van Basten’s effort, along with the fact it was in a European Championship final, earned it the top spot.

In what would nowadays be considered an unusual final, the Netherlands took on the USSR at Euro ‘88, which was a repeat of the first game of a group that also contained the Irish.

Despite all his success in football, Van Basten is probably still best remembered for this goal. His five goals earned him top scorer and player of the tournament.

Van Basten had already stamped his mark on the game with an excellent assist for Ruud Gullit’s opener in the 32nd minute.

The game was all but over just nine minutes into the second half. Olexandr Zavarov’s inability to control the ball allowed Adri van Tiggelen to intercept, and his lay-off to Arnold Mühren proved critical. Mühren swung in a deep cross from the left that evaded the USSR defence and fell to Van Basten at the back post.

It would have been an impossible angle for most players to score from but not Van Basten. He swung his leg at it first time to loop a sweet volley over the head of renowned USSR keeper Rinat Dasayev and into the top corner.

“I didn’t really have a hero growing up, but the player that stood out for me as I got older was Marco van Basten. His famous volley in the Euro ’88 final which helped clinch the European Championships for Holland is definitely my favourite moment”.- Edwin van der Sar

To this day, it is still renowned as one of the finest goals of all time and any volley scored is always compared to Van Basten’s marvelous strike.

Karl Graham, Pundit Arena.

If you disagree with our choices or have a suggestion yourself, let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.