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.
|Year (Hosts)||Winner||Runner-up||Score||Semi-Finalists (3rd v 4th)|
| 2004 |
|Greece||Portugal||1:0||Czech Republic, Holland|
| 2000 |
|France||Italy|| 2:1 |
| 1996 |
|Germany||Czech Republic|| 2:1 |
| 1992 |
| 1988 |
|Holland||USSR||2:0||Italy, West Germany|
| 1984 |
| 1980 |
|West Germany||Belgium||2:1|| Czechoslovakia 1:1 Italy |
| 1976 |
|Czechoslovakia||West Germany|| 2:2 |
|Holland 3:2 Yugoslavia (aet)|
| 1972 |
|West Germany||USSR||3:0||Belgium 2:1 Hungary|
| 1968 |
|Italy||Yugoslavia|| 2:0 (Replay) |
1:1 (1st game)
|England 2:0 USSR|
| 1964 |
|Spain||USSR||2:1||Hungary 3:1 Denmark (aet)|
| 1960 |
|USSR||Yugoslavia||2:1||Czechoslovakia 2:0 France|
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.
|1||17||Germany / West Germany|
|2||11||Russia / USSR|
|4||9||Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia|
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.
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.
|3||Germany / West Germany||1972, 1980, 1996|
|1||Czech Rebulic / Czechoslovakia||1976|
|1||Russia / USSR||1960|
The list of countries who've finished runners up the most times...
|3||Russia / USSR||1964, 1972, 1988|
|2||Germany / West Germany||1976, 1992|
|1||Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia||1996|
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|
|1988||Marco van Basten||Holland||5|
|1980||Klaus Allofs||West Germany||3|
|1976||Dieter Muller||West Germany||4|
|1972||Gerd Muller||West Germany||4|
|1964||Jesus Maria Pereda||Spain||2|