the home of cult football
All our European Championship curiosities and oddities...
Michel Platini became the first, and still only, player to hit two 'perfect' hat-tricks in the European Championships. 'Perfect' hat-tricks consist of one goal from the right foot, one with the left, and one with head. Platini achieved the feat in successive group games, the first in the 5:0 demolition of Belgium, the second in 15 stunning minutes against Yugoslavia, which the French won 3:2. For more details on this and the rest of Platini's heroics, click here.
Going against the grain of normally optimistic hosts, the Austrians decided it was time for something a bit different, and following a run of bad results in the lead up to the tournament a feeling of impending doom and gloom swept the country. So convinced were the public that the national team was going to flop big time and face possible humiliation at the hands of the big boys, that Austrian psychologists offered courses for fans on 'despair management' before the tournament. Claiming that the course could help turn defeat into joy, and that it would help to avoid the gathering sense of catastrophe, the courses were said to be relatively popular having been publicised heavily on the continent, to the particular delight of Austria's neighbours, Germany and Switzerland.
Yes, in normal tournaments we normally have the Group of Death, and in 2012 when the draw was made it was the Germany, Holland, Portugal and Denmark group that was quite rightly given the tag. However, in the month's up to the tournament with the Euro-zone hitting financial meltdown a new group nickname was started... 'The Group of Debt'. Surprisingly Greece wasn't in it, it was made up of Italy, Spain, Ireland and er, Croatia (no-one was quite sure what their national debt was like but it still seemed a good idea because of the other 3 countries !)
No country has ever successfully defended the trophy - the nearest anyone has come was the USSR, who won it in 1960 and then lost in the 1964 final to Spain, and West Germany, who went into the 1976 tournament as holders but lost the final on penalties to Czechoslovakia.