Top Euro Championship moments in history
While some tournaments are unquestionably better than others, there is no doubting the sheer drama that comes with international tournament football. The UEFA European Championships have plenty of landmark goals, iconic players, underdog triumphs and quirky mascots that they stay long in our memories. Here are some of the most memorable moments from Euros past:
Trezeguet's golden moment
As if written by filmwriters, the climax of Euro 2000 could not have been more dramatic. Facing Italy in the final, the reigning World Champions France fell a goal behind in the second half to a clinical strike from Marco Delvecchio. As the game ticked into its final seconds the Italian team stood on the touchline all but celebrating victory before the French equalised via Silvan Wiltord with what was essentially the last kick of regulation time. Into extra time, the clearly energised French poured forward, and following a Robert Pires cross the substitute striker Trezeguet let rip with a volley worthy to win any game. A truly golden goal.
Greece shock the world
Until Leicester City's Premier League triumph earlier this year, the go-to reference for a modern-day footballing miracle was that of Greece in 2004. Rank outsiders from the very start, the Greeks kicked off the tournament against the hosts Portugal, and promptly upset them 2-1. Their often-turgid style of football saw them stagger through the group stages, before further upseting the holders France 1-0 in the Quarter Finals, and the Czech Republic by the same score in the Semi Final. As fate would have it, the final saw the Greeks again pitted against the Portugese, and it was history repeating itself as Angelos Charisteas headed home from a corner to give this cinderella-story the perfect ending.
While there is no denying that Paul Gascoigne is a troubled soul, there is also no denying his sheer creativity. At their home tournament in Euro '96, England were drawn against 'the old rival' Scotland in the group stage. After being 1-0 thanks to an Alan Shearer goal, England conceeded a penalty. As Gary McAllister steped up to shoot, the ball moved slightly and 'keeper David Seaman made the save. Before anyone could have time to take it all in, the ball was up the other end at the feet of 'Gazza' who chips it over a dumbfounded Colin Hendry before volleying it into the net. Cue England's greatest moment since that day in 1966.
The most audacious penalty ever taken
Antonin Panenka is not likely to be a name that most footballers recognise. Yet, the Czech player left an impact on the game that very few other have. The midfielder, who played for most of his career for Bohemians Prague waited until the biggest stage to make an impact, when he stepped up to take a penalty against Germany in the final of Euro '76, after the match was set to be resolved in a shootout. While every other penalty saw the taker either blast or skillfully place it into the net, Panenka stepped up and calmly chip the ball right down the middle. Few outside of the former Czechoslovakia remember the victory, but all kids around the world practice the 'Panenka' penalty.
The golden boot of Marco Van Basten
When people talk about the best goals ever scored, names like Maradona and Carlos Alberto are immediately brought up, but so is the name Marco Van Basten. The Dutchman was one of the world's most feared strikers, and with a Netherlands team at the pinnacle of their powers, there was no greater moment to produce a goal that would be considered one of the most iconic ever scored, than in the final of Euro 1988 agains the USSR. already 1-0 ahead, the Dutch were on a rapid counter-attack, when Van Basten ran on to an overhit cross and smashed it across the goal and over the keeper at, frankly, a ridiculous angel. What's more, that goal also won him the Golden Boot for the tournament.
The name Michel Platini means different things to different people. The younger generation will know him as the former President of UEFA who was forced to resign last year amid accusations of bribery. But those who remember him as a play still hold him in the highest regard. Last time France hosted the Euros, was in 1984, when they were heavy favourites to win. That, however, almost became their downfall as during the Semi-Final against a spirited Portugese side, France found themselves trailing 2-1, before captain fantastic took the team (and the nation) on his back and carried them into the promised land with a late 119th minute winner.