Gareth Southgate and the millions of England fans across the country will be hoping to put the ghost of European Championships 96 behind him this summer, and there’s bound to be plenty of emphasis on it with the Three Lions also likely to play most of their games at Wembley.
The Semi Final will certainly be there, and as we look forward to the Final, which will also take place at the Home of Football, we thought we’d build the anticipation not by looking back on that 1996 penalty defeat to Germany, but the greatest moments in the European Championship’s history…
Gazza v Scotland
Sorry Scotland fans, but Paul Gascoigne’s goal at Euro 96 certainly caught the imagination, not just for its quality and finesse, but also Gazza’s ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration, taking a poke at the media for publishing stories about him prior to the tournament.
Gazza has always been a favourite with the British public, none more so than the players on our bingo site and this goal was perhaps his very finest moment in an England shirt.
Van Basten’s Volley
It’s perhaps the greatest goal a European Championships has ever seen, never mind a Final. It was a goal that is lauded still to this day and capped off a fine tournament for the Dutchman, which included a hat-trick against England, scoring the winner in the Semi-Final against Germany, and then that goal.
The Underdogs Conquer
We love an underdog story and down the years there have been many that have gone on to win, not least Portugal five years ago. Greece also shocked the continent when winning the tournament back in 2004, beating the Portuguese in that instance.
However, it was Denmark who provided the biggest shock, winning the tournament despite never having qualified in the first place. They were a late addition to the Championships after Yugoslavia were disqualified, and some of the Danish players even chose to not cancel their holidays and refuse to play.
The Danish were uninspiring in the Group Stage, and in fact only won one game in 90 minutes on the way to the final. However, their resilience proved a major factor with the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Brian Laudrup, and John Jensen pulling off a huge shock.
The Coin Toss
Perhaps less of a greatest moment, more ‘most unusual’. But the 1968 Semi Final was decided by a coin toss. Italy took on the Soviet Union in this one and with a 0-0 draw and a period of extra time that saw no goals, the game wasn’t decided by penalties, but a coin toss in which Italy won. They would also go on to win the tournament, on more legitimate grounds.
The Panenka Penalty
A penalty did decide the European Championships eight years later however. And it would be a penalty that would change the beautiful game forever. Antonin Panenka stepped up to take what would be a winning spot kick for Czechoslovakia against Germany, but rather than pick a corner or place power on the ball, Panenka lifted a delicate chip above the goalkeeper, and thus the Panenka penalty was born.