In just a few hours, EURO 2020 will kickoff. This competition is the 16th European competition since its inception in 1960. The competition is the brainchild of the French Football secretary general Henry Delauney in 1927. Unfortunately, Henry Delaunay could not see his brainchild become a reality in 1960 as he passed in 1957 , 3 years before the inaugural competition. As a fitting tribute to him, the competition trophies had been named after him. What had started from 4 teams in 1960 had been expanded to 24 teams starting from the 2016 Euro competition. This season competition is played across Europe as a one-off event to celebrate the 60th European competition instead of choosing a host for the tournament. The final and semi-final will be held in Wembley Stadium, and the opening match will be held in Stadio Olimpico, Rome.
Portugal is defending champion in the current tournament, and the controversial and divisive Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will make his debut in the European competition. We will look at some of the exciting facts about the competition since 1960.
The most successful team in these tournaments is Germany and Spain, where both have their name engraved in the trophy three times. Germany had won it in 1972, 1980 and 1996 while Spain had won it in 1964, 2008 and 2012. Spain is the only team that successfully defended their trophies in 2008 and 2012.
Germany is the first team who had won the European Cup, followed by the World Cup in 1972 and 1974. Meanwhile, France is the only team who had won the World Cup followed by the European Cup in 1998 and 2000.
Spain is the only national team with three straight major tournament trophies eclipsing Germany and France by winning the Euro in 2008, World Cup in 2010 and successfully defended their European title in 2012.
Germany had only been defeated once from their seven penalty shootout contested in World Cup and European competition. That defeat came against Chezhoslovakia in 1976 dented their hope of becoming the first team to defend the title successfully.
The 1972 penalty shootout also make the debut of the Panenka penalties copied by many players since then. The penalty was taken by the Chezk player Antonia Panenka that had given them the European title in 1972.
The host nation has an impeccable record when it comes to this competition when they reach the final. Spain and Italy had achieved their first European while hosting the tournament in 1964 and 1968, respectively. The flawless host nation record had been shattered when Portugal become the first host nation to lost the final when Greece had beaten them in 2004
Iker Casillas is the first goalkeeper who successfully captained the team to lift the European trophy. He had achieved this historical feat in 2008 and 2012.
The only time that a replay had been played in a European final is in 1968 when Italy beat Yugoslavia in the replay. From 1968, the penalty shootout had been used as a decider in the final.
They are more winner in the European competition if compared to the World Cup. In the World Cup only Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, France, England, Italy and German had won the trophies. In the European competition USSR, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Netherland and Portugal had lifted the trophies. They are 10 teams that had lifted the trophies compared to 7 in the World Cup.
Portugal won in 2016 is their first major international trophies for them. They had been runner up in 1984 and 2004 edition before capturing the title in 2016.
The golden goal rule introduced in 1994, where the team that scores first in the extra time will be the winner. The golden goal had come into effect in the 1996 edition and 2000 edition, where both Germany and France benefited from these rule in sealing the European title in both editions.
The final in 1976 is the only time that a penalty shootout had used to decide the winners of the European competition. Since then, except in 1996, 2000 and in 2016, where the winner is decided in the extra time, almost all the final had been decided in the 90 minutes.
Greece European title in 2004 is the most unexpected title win ever in any football competition. Greece had only qualified for three major tournaments before Euro 2004, where they only qualified for Euro 1980 and World Cup in 1994, where they returned home without any win in the first round. They got the first win in a major tournament against the host Portugal in 2004. The momentum of their first victory in a major tournament had carried them until the final, where they meet Portugal again and become the European champion. En route to the final, they had knocked out France, the defending champion in the quarter-final and the Czech Republic heavy favourites to win the tournament that year.
England national team had won their first-ever penalty shootout at the Euro 1996 when they had beaten Spain in the quarter-final.
Germany title in Euro 1996 is their first title after the reunification of Germany in 1990. Before the reunification, the are 2 German national teams, West Germany and East Germany.
Michel Platini record of 9 goals in the 1984 edition is the most goals scored by a player in a single tournament. His outstanding achievement en route to the French winning the trophies in these years is still kept intact.
The European competition was described as the more challenging tournament to won than the World Cup by Franz Beckenbauer. The competition between the European national team is undoubtedly a feast for the football fan after the World Cup. We only hope that these year editions will emulate or topple the Euro 2000, which is the best European competition ever.