All the Winners and the Finalists of the Euros: The Top Tales From the Old Continent

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 9.7.2024.


With all due respect to Copa America, AFCON, or the Confederations Cup, but the second most important international tournament after the World Cup is certainly the European Championship! In its 64 years of existence, there have been 10 winners, and another seven teams that failed to reach the pinnacle in the last match. Taking a look at all the winners and the finalists of the Euros tells the bulk of the story of international European football.

The format of the competition changed throughout the years, making the tournament all that different, yet the winners' bragging rights remain.

Euro 1960: Soviet Union 2:1 Yugoslavia

Played in France, the inaugural Euro had only four teams competing at it. Czechoslovakia faced the Soviet Union in the semis, losing 3:0, while France and Yugoslavia played a nine-goal thriller with the guest country progressing. The final was played at the second Parc des Princes and Yugoslavia took the lead in the 43rd minute. The Soviet Union bounced back in the 49th minute with a goal from Slava Metreveli. In extra time, Viktor Ponedelnik scored the winner in the 113th minute

Euro 1964: Spain 2:1 Soviet Union

The Soviet Union found itself in back-to-back finals of the European Championship, although in the second outing they were beaten by the hosts, Spain. The game had a lot of tension, as in the qualifiers for the previous tournament, Spain - then run by the fascist leader Francisco Franco - refused to travel to a communist USSR.

Spain defeated Hungary to reach the final, and the Soviets defeated Denmark. In the final game, Chus Pereda opened the scoring in the six minute but the game was a stalemate again just after two minutes and Galimzyan Khusainov's goal. Marcelino Martinez broke the deadlock in the 84th minute, giving Spain its first international trophy.

Euro 1968: Italy 1:1 Yugoslavia, Italy 2:0 Yugoslavia

In what will be a frequent occurrence, the hosts won the third-ever Euros. Italy also triumphed over a four-team tournament but after three games. An incredible event in every way, as Italy won the semis against the USSR on a coin toss after a 0:0 draw! Whilst Yugoslavia defeated England, fresh of its 1966 World Cup triumph.

The final match saw Dragan Dzajic score after 39 minutes of playing, after an in-the-box kerfuffle. Angelo Domenghini equalised with a thundering free-kick in the 80th minute, scheduling a replay match. In the match two days later, the Italians scored with beautiful goals by Gigi Riva in the 12th and Pietro Anastasi in the 31st minute.

Euro 1972: West Germany 3:0 Soviet Union

The third final of the Soviet Union in the fourth edition of the Euro, now suffering the defeat at the hands of the former enemies - or the other part of their puppet state. Gerd Muller bossed the final with two goals, spaced by a Herbert Wimmer effort. Played at the infamous Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, with the Atomium landmark as the backdrop, the first goal included cartoon-like efforts from legends like Franz Beckenbauer and Jupp Heynckes before Muller slotted his first in the 27th minute. Heynckes was involved with the other two goals, coming in the 52nd and 58th minute.

Euro 1976: Czechoslovakia 2:2 West Germany (penalty shootout)

Yugoslavia was the host for the 1976 tournament, still with only four teams competing. The Netherlands was eliminated by Czechoslovakia after extra time and the hosts by Germany, also after extra time. The final also featured an extra time, but the score was a draw even after 120 minutes, resulting in the first penalty shootout ever. One that will be remembered forever.

Jan Svehlik and Karol Dobias put the Czechoslovakians up front by two with goals in the eighth and 25th minute. But Gerd Muller brought their hype down just three minutes later. Yet the Germans were fearful until the 89th minute when Bernd Holzenbein scored the equaliser! In the penalty shootout, the Germans were shooting second and in the fourth series, Uli Hoenes missed his penalty. The Czechoslovakians laid their hopes in a man who was about to write the history of football and become immortalized, Antonin Panenka placed the ball on the spot kick and then chipped it into the goal and history. Making the best penalty of all time.

Euro 1980: West Germany 2:1 Belgium

Another final played at Rome's Olimpico stadium after the two matches played in 1968. Even though its recent generation was labelled the golden one, Belgium actually managed a bigger success way back when. In the first Euros that had groups, two of them with four teams each, Belgium went ahead against England, Spain, and the hosts Italy. The winners of the groups immediately played in the finals and West Germany took the spoils.

Bernd Schuster assisted Horst Hrubesch in the 10th minute for a goal, but the Belgians responded late in the game with Rene Vandereycken converting a penalty. However, Hrubesch scored the winner in the 88th minute with a header from a corner.

Euro 1984: France 2:0 Spain

Back to the hosts winning the tournament, with France winning the tournament consisting of a group stage with two groups of four teams, converging into the semis. The hosts took Portugal in the semis, while Spain went past Denmark. In the final, Michel Platini scored the opener, his ninth goal of the tournament, in the 57th minute. Remaining the best of the best of Euros topscorers. While Bruno Bellone killed the hope for a comeback in the 90th minute with a nonchalant chipped goal.

Euro 1988: The Netherlands 2:0 Soviet Union

The fourth and final finals for the Soviet Union, first in the tournament of groups, with eight competitors, same as the previous competition. Played in West Germany, the neighbouring Dutch were defeated by the Soviets in the group stage. However, they regrouped and defeated the hosts, scheduling a rematch with the USSR, who went past Italy. The team under the legendary Rinus Michels solved the final with the help of its two key players Ruud Gullit, who scored a header in the 32nd minute, and then Marco van Basten scored one of the best goals ever in the 54th minute. The ever-reconizable volley from a sharp angle, nearly from the corner line.

Euro 1992: Denmark 2:0 Germany

A fairytale story for the Danes, as they weren't even supposed to be involved in the tournament. Yugoslavia was disqualified from competing in it due to the country breaking up and the Danish took their place. The unexpected guests went through in the group, while England and France crashed out. Even better for them, the Danes played and won in the final while the tournament was happening in Sweden, their friendly but rivalrous neighbours. It was a weak consolation for the Swedes that they won against the smaller country in the group stage as in the biggest match, the Danes defeated their gigantic southern neighbours.

In the first tournament after the unification of Germany, the small neighbours to the north played on the backs of their star player Peter Schmeichel and kept a clean sheet. John Jensen scored in the 18th minute after the Germans played a bit too loose in the defensive build-up. While Kim Vilfort scored 60 minutes later with a pinpoint shot that echoed from the woodwork.

Euro 1996: Germany 2:1 Czech Republic (golden goal)

The first tournament played with 16 teams across four groups, didn't disappoint with its final game. Within a football temple that is Wembley, a big score draw went into overtime and then was finished with the forever-missed pinnacle of footballing excitement - the golden goal. Patrik Berger opened the scoring for the Czech Republic by converting a penalty in the 59th minute. Germans didn't give up and Oliver Bierhoff scored with his head after a long-range free-kick. The same player scored one of the two golden goals in the European finals by playing strong with his back towards the goal, then unleashing a shot that stopped the game in the 98th minute.

Euro 2000: France 2:1 Italy (golden goal)

A classic game that had a fitting finish. At the height of Italian football, the Azzurri faced the French following their 1998 World Cup triumph. In Rotterdam, the Italians took the lead in the 55th minute with a goal by a surprise inclusion to the team, Marco Delvecchio. The French bounced back during their last possible attack! In the fourth minute of added time, Fabian Barthez sent a long ball forward, David Trezequet lowered it to the left where Sylvan Wiltord shot from a tight angle, yet Francisco Toldo reacted poorly and the ball went beneath him into the goal.

The dazed Italians held on for 13 minutes in extra time when Robert Pires danced on the left side, and sent a cross into the box where Trezequet trebucheted it into the net! The last golden goal came two years later, yet this one was the most memorable one.

Euro 2004: Greece 1:0 Portugal

One of the worst tournaments and finals for the neutrals, yet Greece were the ultimate outsiders. Playing the final against the hosts Portugal nonetheless. While the domestic side had players like Luis Figo, Deco, Costinha, Pauletta, and the young Cristiano Ronaldo in the team. Still, Grecee's iron defensive tactics under the German Otto Rehhagel paid off in the 57th minute when Angelos Charisteas scored from a corner. The Portuguese had 17 shots on goal, Greece four, but the trophy went to the Mediterranean nation.

Euro 2008: Spain 1:0 Germany

Big matches produce memorable goals and Spain and Germany's juggernaut clash in Vienna, Austria wasn't the exception. The Red Fury celebrated with a lone goal in the 33rd minute, with the crafty Fernando Torres shuffling behind the last line of Germany off a Xavi pass, only to chip over Jens Lehmann whilst falling down. The Spanish came closer to doubling the lead than the Germans did to equalizing and the reign of the Red Fury began.

Euro 2012: Spain 4:0 Italy

By far the biggest score of the finals, with Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas pouring the salt on the wounds of the Italians by pleading with the referee to shorten the stoppage time of four minutes and show respect to Italy. Perhaps in good heart, but certainly condescending. Italian lines were truly broken and besides the first goal that looked like an effort from a perfect Spanish trademark attack, the general consensus is that the Azzurri had to do better. David Silva scored in the 14th minute, Jordi Alba in the 41st, then Fernando Torres and Juan Mata sealed the score in the 84th and 88th minute.

Euro 2016: Portugal 1:0 France (extra time)

Inflicting the pain they themselves experienced 12 years before the Euro in France, the Portuguese defeated the hosts in an even more painful matter. Firstly, the Portuguese lost their key player Cristiano Ronaldo to injury in the first half, and the heavily favoured France overall had more shots - 18 to nine. But in the extra time, the Portuguese had the upper hand with three efforts compared to the one of the hosts. In the 109th minute, the unlikeliest of players, Eder, battled his guardians, made some room for himself and sent out a fast and low shot from 19 yards out - goal! Finally, healing for the Portuguese and a fresh wound for the French.

This was the first Euro tournament played with 24 teams, making the winners all that more proud, and the finalists all that more bitter.

Euro 2020: Italy 1:1 England (penalty shootout)

While the Euro 2020 (played in 2021 due to the response to the global pandemic) didn't have a single host, the final was played in England, at the Wembley stadium. Hence, in the 21st century, the hosts lost their third final. Perhaps in the most devastating way as the hosts took the lead quite early - in the second minute with Luke Shaw finishing a cross on the far post! The Italians responded in the 67th minute as Leonardo Bonucci put the ball in after a mix-up in the box.

The Italians did deserve the goal more, as the finally tally after extra time was 20 goal attempts for Italy - six for the hosts. In the penalty shootout, English took the lead first, but Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka all missed to see the Italians win it 3:2!

Of all the winners and the finalists of the Euros, Germany has the most finals, with six, winning half of them. Spain has the best ratio, winning three times and losing once. Italians also have a 50% success rate with two attempts, while the Soviet Union took one of their total four finals appearances. Yugoslavia failed to win twice, Belgium once, and England once.



Share this article?
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Send it to your friends
Viber Whatsapp Facebook Telegram

Love what you're reading? Subscribe to our newsletter and have our articles delivered straight to your inbox, ensuring you never miss out on the latest updates.

Read These Next