Expert analysis of the events in Poland and Ukraine
Among the many marvellous features in the new FourFourTwo – out now, folks – there's a rundown of the 50 Moments That Rocked The Euros. Among them are the following, lovingly presented in the form of moving pictures. Don't say we never do anything for you...
Van Basten: from sub to superstar (1988)Here's a happy tale for every benchwarmer: Marco van Basten started Euro 1988 on the bench. Then he scored a hat-trick against hapless England and ended the tournament with this trigonometry-trumping triumph, perhaps the finest goal in Euros history.
World, meet Wazza (2004)Although he had started 10 games before the tournament, at Euro 2004 Wayne Rooney announced himself to a global audience as a bull of a player who didn't even stop when he was bootless with a broken foot. Hobbled without him, a lame England limped out. Alright, we'll stop now.
Exit Yugoslavia, enter Denmark (1992)Youthful stars Pancev, Boban, Savicevic, Prosinecki and Suker were tipped to conquer Europe - until Yugoslavia's civil war led to a UN resolution banning them from the party. Qualification group runners-up Denmark were catapulted from the beach to unexpected glory.
Cruyff's Oranje see red (1976)Beaten World Cup finalists either side of these Euros, Holland went one worse in '76, losing to the Czechs in the semi-finals. Johan Neeskens was sent off, Johan Cruyff picked up a booking which would rule him out of the final, and Wim van Hanegem was sent off for refusing to kick off.
Ronnie’s rocket rocks Russia; Republic rejoices (1988)Having beaten England on their tournament debut, the Irish were ecstatic when Ronnie Whelan acrobatically volleyed them in front against a strong Russia team. Sadly the Soviets grabbed a draw and a defeat to the Dutch knocked Ireland out… but they had arrived as a footballing nation.
Germany strike gold (1996)After quarter-final defeat at USA 94, Germany had plenty to prove at Euro 96. They did so by beating the hosts in the semi-final and coming from behind in the final to beat the Czechs via two goals from substitute Oliver Bierhoff, the winner being a major tournament first: a golden goal.
Paul the Octopus: better than Lawro (2008)Cephalopod kerfuffle! Given a choice of two nationally-notated mussels by his keepers at a Sea Life centre in Germany, Paul 'predicted' the winner correctly in four out of Germany's six Euro 2008 games – then got eight out of eight for the 2010 World Cup.
The Euros' greatest ever game? Spain 4-3 Yugoslavia (2000)Euro 96 had the lowest goal average since 1980, but the next episode was much better with goalfests like this seven-goal humdinger. Spain thrice went behind, levelled in the 94th, won it in the 96th to make it to the knock-outs, and partied like it was still 1999.
Jeepers, sweepers, where d’you get that keeper? (1960)In the inaugural Euros, USSR goalkeeper Lev Yashin stood out for his black kit, superb saves and willingness to sweep up behind a sometimes ponderous defence. After USSR beat Yugoslavia in the final, Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev sent a congratulatory telegram – to Yashin.
Political football: Franco rewrites history (1964)Champions in 1960, the Soviets lost the 1964 final to hosts Spain. Fascist dictator Franco was delighted to have beaten the Communists who had supplied his Civil War enemies, but Spain's star was Barcelona's Basque icon Chus Pereda… so Franco ordered him to be cut out of the footage.
France supersubs break Italian’s hearts (2000)In the 2000 final, Italy thought they'd done enough to defeat the world champions. But Roger Lemerre threw on three attacking subs, and two of them scored: Sylvain Wiltord the injury-time equaliser, David Trezeguet the golden goal winner. France got the gong, Italy boss Dino Zoff got the sack.
England going All The Way… or not (1988)It seemed the dream combination for Euro 88 success: gallant Mexico 86 quarter-finalists England singing a ditty penned by chart annexers Stock, Aitken and Waterman. The Europap song hit No.64 in the charts, and England crashed out with three defeats in three games.
From tomatoes to trophies (1968)Twice world champions in the 1930s, Italy hadn't got out of the group stage since and were welcomed home from England in 1966 with a hail of tomatoes. They hosted Euro 68 and, after winning the semi on a coin toss, won the final after a replay. Did they care? Not a jot.
Panenka's chocolate chip (1976)As he explains in the new FFT, Czech midfielder Antonin Panenka used to wager chocolate and beer on post-training shootouts with a goalkeeper chum. His brightest idea was the subtle chip down the middle after the goalkeeper had dived. Publicly unveiled in the Euro 76 final shootout, it helped beat the (West) Germans.
Basil’s faulty move (1992)A lack of research or an excess of chutzpah led Basile Boli to headbutt, of all people, Stuart Pearce during the dire 0-0 between England and France at Euro 92. Naturally, Pearce stayed on his feet and played on, blood pouring from his cheekbone.
Czechs complete greatest comeback (2004)Despite the Greeks' gradual grind to glory, there were 77 goals at Euro 2004, and five of them came in a group-game classic between the Czechs and Dutch. The Oranje went two up within 20 minutes but the Czechs, er, bounced back through Koller, Baros and Smicer.
No Fontaine, no Kopa… no chance (1960)The first Euro finals were a long weekend in France, and in the semi-final les Bleus hosted Yugoslavia. Despite missing stars Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine, they were winning 4-2 deep into the second half… whereupon the visitors scored three in four minutes to win.
Zizou heaves it late to sink England (2004)Busy old injury-time for Zinedine Zidane. First he converted a free-kick to haul France level against England. Then he vomited. Then he converted the penalty for their late, late winner. Then, presumably, had a well-deserved lie down.
The Germans are coming (1972)Fluid '70s team-play usually brings to mind Dutch Total Football, but West Germany were no slouches either – as England found out in the home leg of their (qualifying) quarter-final. The visitors outclassed their hosts and led for most of the game, showing the style that would triumph at Euro 72 and the 1974 World Cup.
“Conspiracy!” cry Italians (2004)After drawing their first two group games, Italy needed a win – and one for either side in the simultaneous Sweden-Denmark game. The Azzurri dispatched Bulgaria but the Scandis shared a four-goal thriller, the 89th-minute leveller prompting predictable outrage in Italy.
Platini’s one-man show (sort of) (1984)It might be a bit hard on the fellow members of France's 'Magic Square' midfield, but Michel Platini dragged les Bleus to victory on home soil with six goals in three group games, the last-minute winner in the semi against Portugal and then the crucial opening goal in the final. Bon!
Greece is the word (2004)'Greece 2004 highlights' might sound like a short clip-reel, but you try saying that to a hot-blooded Hellenic. They started with a group-game win over Portugal and, three ground-out 1-0 knockout games later, defeated the same side to become champions of Europe.
Swedes 2 Turnips 1 (1992)England's awful Euro 92 whimpered out with a 2-1 defeat to the hosts. One tabloid branded manager Graham Taylor a turnip, but Sweden were a good side who have frequently troubled England since – and their winner ("Brolin… Dahlin… BROLIN!") was a peach.
Poland declares war on Howard Webb (2008)Injury-time penalty awards tend to inflame the passions somewhat, but rarely as much as this. After Howard Webb granted a late spot-kick for co-hosts Austria to level, Polish PM Donald Tusk's "I wanted to kill" quote summed up the aggrieved country's mood.
Mullers sees red (1968)Someone had to be the first England player sent off, and it was Alan Mullery who got first go of the soap after reacting to Yugoslav provocation in the Euro 68 semi-final: "I turned and kicked him in the how's your fathers". The FA fined Mullers £50; it was paid by Alf Ramsey.
Holland pay the penalty… again (2000)Think England suck at penalties? Try being Dutch. The Oranje had already exited three tournaments via spot-kick shootouts when they reached the Euro 2000 semis against Italy (themselves hardly experts at it). In total, they missed five, with Frank de Boer missing one in regulation time and one in the shootout.
Spain reign… at last (2008)Before winning the World Cup, Spain conquered the continent with their tiki-taka football, laying to rest nearly half a century of underachievement. They go into Euro 2012 as European champions, world champions and favourites, but will they triumph? Watch this space…
There are more Euro moments in the current issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out now.
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