European Championships History

First held in 1960 under the guise of the European Nations Cup, it's been held every four years since then but has been known as the European Football Championships since changing it's name in 1968.

The idea for a European nations tournament was first raised over 30 years earlier by Frenchman Henri Delaunay back in 1927. When UEFA was formed in 1954 Delaunay became it's first General Secretary and set in motion the idea for the first tournament, although he died before the first tournament was held. His son took over from him and the Championship trophy was subsequently named after his father.

The format for the first five tournaments, from 1960 to 1976, was quite simple - an initial qualifying campaign followed by a final tournament featuring just four teams. Strangely, the host nation was only chosen once the four final qualifiers had been decided.

The 1980 tournament in Italy was the first to feature more than four teams, as eight of Europe's finest met in two groups, with the winner of each, Belgium and West Germany, meeting in the final. However, the tournament was blighted by some terrible games, serious crowd trouble from travelling English fans and incredibly small attendances (less than 5,000 were at Rome's Stadio Olimpico to watch holders Czechoslovakia beat Greece). However, a fantastic tournament four years later in France seemed to really kick start the Championships, as Michel Platini inspired a nation and large crowds flocked to a number of sensational matches. Another great tournament in West Germany in 1988 cemented the appeal of the Championships, and it's now become big business, with hosting of the Championships becoming a prestigious event, second only to the World Cup.

The Championships

Year (Hosts) Winner Runner-up Score Semi-Finalists (3rd v 4th)
Greece Portugal 1:0 Czech Republic, Holland
France Italy 2:1
Holland, Portugal
Germany Czech Republic 2:1
England, France
Denmark Germany 2:0 Holland, Sweden
(West Germany)
Holland USSR 2:0 Italy, West Germany
France Spain 2:0 Denmark, Portugal
West Germany Belgium 2:1 Czechoslovakia 1:1 Italy
(9:8 pens)
Czechoslovakia West Germany 2:2
(5:3 pens)
Holland 3:2 Yugoslavia (aet)
West Germany USSR 3:0 Belgium 2:1 Hungary
Italy Yugoslavia 2:0 (Replay)
1:1 (1st game)
England 2:0 USSR
Spain USSR 2:1 Hungary 3:1 Denmark (aet)
USSR Yugoslavia 2:1 Czechoslovakia 2:0 France

Most Successful Nations

We've worked out who we think are the most successful nations in the European Championships by awarding a simple points system:

Winner: 4 points, Runner-up: 2 points, Semi-finalist: 1 point.

Rank Points Nation
1 17 Germany / West Germany
2 11 Russia / USSR
3 10 France
4 9 Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia
=5 8 Holland
=5 8 Italy
=7 6 Denmark
=7 6 Spain
9 5 Yugoslavia
=10 4 Greece
=10 4 Portugal
12 3 Belgium
=13 2 England
=13 2 Hungary
15 1 Sweden

Well, they say the MD tables never lie. And so it's no surprise at all to see Germany heading the table by a country mile, or that France are at number 3. A couple of surprises alongside them in the top four though, with Russia's success in the competition's early days and the Czech Republic's consistently fine performances over the years seeing them at number 2 and 4 in the list, ahead of footballing giants Italy and Holland. The Danes too, are surprisingly high up the table in 7th, whilst perennial underachievers Spain just make it into the top 10. England's disastrous effort's in the competition are reflected in a lowly joint-13th spot, ahead of Sweden but behind Greece and Belgium. And given that there'll be a no-show at Austria-Switzerland 2008, neither is it going to improve for a while.

Most Titles

With the Germans topping our most successful list, it's hardly surprising to see them at the top this one either, as the only nation to have won the championships three times. Indeed, the wide spread of championship wins means that France are the only other country to have won the trophy more than once.

Titles Nation Years
3 Germany / West Germany 1972, 1980, 1996
2 France 1984, 2000
1 Czech Rebulic / Czechoslovakia 1976
1 Denmark 1992
1 Greece 2004
1 Holland 1988
1 Italy 1968
1 Russia / USSR 1960
1 Spain 1964

Always the Bridesmaid...

The list of countries who've finished runners up the most times...

Number Nation Years
3 Russia / USSR 1964, 1972, 1988
2 Germany / West Germany 1976, 1992
2 Yugoslavia 1960, 1968
1 Belgium 1980
1 Spain 1984
1 Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia 1996
1 Italy 2000
1 Portugal 2004

Top Scorers

Who's banged the most goals in over the years since the European Championships began back in 1960...

Year Top Scorer Country Num of Goals
2004 Milan Baros Czech Republic 5
2000 Patrick Kluivert Holland 5
Savo Milosevic Yugoslavia 5
1996 Alan Shearer England 5
1992 Henrik Larsen Denmark 3
Karl-Heinz Riedle Germany 3
Dennis Bergkamp Holland 3
Tomas Brolin Sweden 3
1988 Marco van Basten Holland 5
1984 Michel Platini France 9
1980 Klaus Allofs West Germany 3
1976 Dieter Muller West Germany 4
1972 Gerd Muller West Germany 4
1968 Dragan Dzajic Yugoslavia 2
1964 Jesus Maria Pereda Spain 2
Ferenc Bene Hungary 2
Dezso Novak Hungary 2
1960 Francois Heutte France 2
Valentin Ivanov USSR 2
Viktor Ponedelnik USSR 2
Milan Galic Yugoslavia 2
Drazan Jerkovic Yugoslavia 2