All About UEFA European Championship – Euro Cup

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uefa european championship

The UEFA European Championship, also informally known as Euros is the primary association football competition that determines the continental champion of Europe. It was founded in 1958 (63 years ago). The competition has been held every four years since 1960, except for 2020, which was postponed due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. A total of 55 teams are eligible to enter the qualifications out of which the best 24 teams are finalized. Germany and Spain have proven to be the most successful teams. This is the second most viewed championship after FIFA World Cup with a global audience of around 300 Million.

Brief Information About UEFA European Championship

Founded in: 1960

Region: Europe (UEFA)

Number of Teams: 55

Number of Finalists: 24

Current Champions: Portugal (1st title)

Most Successful Teams: Germany and Spain – 3 times each.

Last Edition: 2016 hosted by France

Next Edition: 11 June – 11 July 2021 hosted in 12 countries and in 12 football stadiums (Azerbaijan, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Spain)

History of the UEFA European Championship:

In 1927 the French Football Federation’s Secretary General Henri Delaunay proposed an inter European football tournament, but the idea remained in the cold storage till 1958 by the time Henri Delaunay was no more. But since the 1960 tournament, the first one of its kind was held in France, the trophy awarded to the Champions of the European Championship is named after Henri Delaunay and it is called the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

17 teams participated in the inaugural tournament played in 1960 and the Soviet Union became the first champions. Because of certain political reasons, England, Netherlands, West Germany, and Italy did not participate in it.

In 1980 the tournament was extended to 8 teams who got their places after playing qualifying matches against different teams. The expansion process continued throughout these years and in 1996 the tournament added 8 more teams in the final shape up and it is now a 16 team tournament. In 2014 when France was going to host the Euro 2016, the tournament further extended to 24 teams.

Expansion to 8 teams:

The competition was expanded to eight teams in the 1980 tournament, hosted by Italy. It involved a group stage, with the winners of the groups going on to contest the final, and the runners-up playing in the third-place play-off.

Expansion to 16 teams:

England hosted UEFA Euro 1996, the first tournament to use the nomenclature “Euro [year]” and would see the number of teams taking part double to 16.

Expansion to 24 teams:

In 2007, the Football Association of Ireland and Scottish Football Association proposed the expansion of the tournament, which was later confirmed by the UEFA Executive Committee in September 2008. Out of the 54 member associations of UEFA, only three including England and Germany opposed the expansion. On 28 May 2010, UEFA announced that Euro 2016 would be hosted by France. UEFA Euro 2016 was the first to have 24 teams in the finals.

Playing Format

Qualifying Process

In addition to the 20 teams who qualify for the competition by finishing in the top two of the 10 groups, four teams will qualify via the play-offs. A total of 16 teams participate in the playoffs based on their Nations League group finishes and performances.

Final Tournament

The 2016 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2016 or simply Euro 2016, was the 15th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men’s football championship of Europe organized by UEFA. 24 teams progressed to the final tournament for the 2016 tournament. It was held in France from 10 June to 10 July 2016, the winners and the highest-ranked second-placed team from the nine qualifying groups as well as the winners of four play-off matches between the runners-up of the other groups.

These 24 teams were divided equally into four groups, A, B, C, and D, each consisting of four teams. The groups were drawn up by the UEFA administration, again using seeding. The seeded teams being the host nations, the reigning champions, subject to qualification, and those with the best points per game coefficients over the qualifying phase of the tournament and the previous World Cup qualifying. Other finalists were assigned by means of a draw, using coefficients as a basis.

UEFA Euro Cup Records

In the latest edition of 2016, Portugal won against France with a score of 1-0

Champions & Runners-Up

TeamsWinnersRunners-Up
Germany33
Spain31
France21
Soviet Union13
Italy12
Czech Republic11
Portugal11
Netherlands1
Denmark1
Greece1
Yugoslavia2
Belgium1

Team with most appearances in the UEFA European Championship

No.TeamAppearances
1Germany13
2Russia12
3Spain11
4France10
5Italy10
6Czech Republic10
7Netherlands10
8England10
9Denmark9
10Portugal8
11Sweden7
12Belgium6
13Croatia6
14Serbia5
15Turkey5
16Romania5
17Switzerland5
18Greece4
19Hungary4
20Poland4
21Republic of Ireland3
22Scotland3
23Austria3
24Ukraine3
25Wales2
26Slovakia2
27Bulgaria2
28Iceland1
29Northern Ireland1
30Norway1
31Slovenia1
32Latvia1
33Albania1
34Finland1
35North Macedonia1

Players With Most Goals In Euro Cup:

RankPlayerTeamGoals scored
1Michel PlatiniFrance9
2Cristiano RonaldoPortugal9
3Alan ShearerEngland7
4Antoine GriezmannFrance6
5Ruud van NistelrooyNetherlands6
6Patrick KluivertNetherlands6
7Wayne RooneyEngland6
8Thierry HenryFrance6
9Zlatan IbrahimovićSweden6
10Nuno GomesPortugal6
11Savo MiloševićFR Yugoslavia5
12Marco van BastenNetherlands5
13Milan BarošCzech Republic5
14Jürgen KlinsmannWest Germany / Germany5
15Fernando TorresSpain5
16Mario GómezGermany5
17Zinedine ZidaneFrance5

Biggest Wins In Euro Cup:

 France 5–0  Belgium, 1984

 Denmark 5–0  Yugoslavia, 1984

 Netherlands 6–1  FR Yugoslavia, 2000

 Sweden 5–0  Bulgaria, 2004  

UEFA Euro Cup Best Players Till Date:

Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas has been a long-time server of Spanish football. He is affectionately called King Iker. He is the only goalkeeper in the history of the Euros, and one of 13 players to have lifted multiple titles in the competition. Casillas even won the 2010 FIFA World Cup interspersed between his two Euros triumphs in 2008 and 2012.

Casillas exhibited an incredible performance during over 14 games at the Euros.

He never lost a penalty shootout for Spain, one of them being against Italy in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Euros. Casillas also did not concede more than one goal in a match at the quadrennial tournament.

Lilian Thuram

Lilian Thuram

Lilian Thuram is the reason for France’s victory at the 2000 Euros.

Lilian played in four editions of the Euros. He played as a right-back in the 1996 and 2000 Euros before moving to the center of defense in his next two appearances in the competition.

Thuram’s glorious 142 international caps are the most by a French player. Thuram became the first player to play 15 matches at the Euros, a record that was later equaled by Netherlands’ keeper Edwin Van der Saar.

Laurent Blanc

At the 1992 Euros, even though France did not succeed as a team to make it past the group stage, Blanc’s performances earned him a spot in the tournament. At Euro 2000, Blanc was one of the important players for France as they beat Spain, Portugal, and Italy on their way to their second Euros title.

Blanc has scored two goals at the Euros. He also exhibited remarkable composure to score the winning penalty in a quarterfinal matchup with the Netherlands at the 1996 Euros. Renowned for his reliability and dependability, Blanc was a leader in his team, which is why he makes the all-time Euros list as the first center-back.

Sergio Ramos

When we think of the two best second center-back positions in the all-time Euros team the name Sergio Ramos comes to mind. Although both players have won the Euros, Ramos is the one who gets the nod as he has won the competition twice by playing in two different positions.

Ramos played as a right-back in Spain’s vanquishing Euro 2008 campaign. 

Ramos, in the Team of the Tournament at the 2012 Euros, captained Spain in the 2016 edition of the competition where the three-time winners bowed out to Italy. Nevertheless, his remarkable performances at the Euros evidence him taking the second center-back spot in our all-time Euros team.

Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini, one of the best defenders to have ever played the game, was also fabulous at the Euros. He might not have won the tournament but his performances were nothing short of outstanding.

Although he chiefly played as a left-back, he was versatile enough to play as centre-back when the situation demanded. Maldini captained Italy at Euro 1996 and at the 2000 Euros where he saw Azzurri all the way to the final.

Luis Figo

Luis Figo was an exception to the fact that there were not many right midfielders who have lit up the Euros . He played in three editions of the quadrennial tournament, of 1996, 2000, and 2004.

Figo was a part of the Team of the Tournament at the 2000 and 2004 Euros. Out of the 14 games he played in the Euros, he scored twice and assisted five goals. His performances were the key to Portugal’s success at the Euros.

The Real Madrid player captained Portugal to the 2004 Euro finals where they went down to Greece. Portugal succeeded against teams like Spain, England, and the Netherlands, only to be defeated by a stoic Greek team in the final.

Michel Platini

Michel Platini only played once at the Euros,  in the 1984 edition of the tournament. But such marvelous was the impact that he found a place in the all-time Euros lineup.

It may be confusing to see Platini in central midfield as he operated in an attacking midfield role in the all-time Euros XI. On the contrary, his nine goals at Euro 1984 still remain a record for most goals of a single edition in the Euros.

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez was brought to attention in two editions of the Euros, making the Team of the Tournament both the times. Although Xavi was part of Spain’s team at Euro 2004, he did not get the chance to play in any of the matches. 

One astonishing aspect about Xavi’s record at the Euros is that Spain has never lost a game at the tournament started by him. Xavi is one of 13 players, 12 of them from Spain, to have won the tournament on multiple occasions (twice).

One of the key factors of Spain’s tiki taka football, Xavi was at his best in the 2008 and 2012 Euros, orchestrating the La Furia Roja show from midfield.

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta pulled the left midfield role for Spain’s victorious campaigns at the 2008 and 2012 Euros.

Iniesta accumulated four assists across both these campaigns, while also receiving the Best Player of the Tournament award in the competition’s 2012 edition. Iniesta’s efforts were instrumental in Spain’s back-to-back victory at the quadrennial tournament.

His versatility was on display at Euro 2016 where he moved to a central midfield role. Iniesta is one of 12 Spanish players to win the Euros on multiple occasions.

Cristiano Ronaldo

With 31 goals, Ronaldo is the all-time top-scorer in Euro qualifiers, while his nine goals at the Euros are the most scored by any player in the tournament alongside Platini. Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player to score in four editions of the Euros besides his 21 matches at the quadrennial tournament are the most by any player. He is one of the top followed and madly worshiped by football fans all over the world.

Ronaldo’s Euro debut was in 2004 where he scored a goal and provided an assist in Portugal’s semifinal win over the Netherlands before the hosts lost to Greece in the final.

However, 12 years and three more Euros appearances later, the pain of the 2004 final loss became a distant memory. After first captaining the team at Euro 2012, Ronaldo scored three goals and provided as many assists in the next edition of the competition as Portugal became the tenth different team to triumph at the quadrennial tournament.

Important Facts About UEFA European Championship:

  • Originally the tournament was named the “European Nations Cup”.
  • The winner of the UEFA Euro progressed to FIFA Confederations Cup till 2016.
  • Germany and Spain are the most successful teams of European Championships as they claim titles thrice each in the history.
  • Spain is the only football team to win successive titles as they won the 2008 and 2012 championships.
  • The UEFA European Championship trophy is known as the “Henri Delaunay Trophy” which is named to honor UEFA’s first general secretary Henri Delaunay who proposed to start this competition for the European continent. But Henri died five years before the first edition in 1960.
  •  Henri Delaunay Trophy weighs 8 kilograms and its height is 60 centimeters.
  • This UEFA Euro championship started with 4 teams competing in the finals. From 1980, eight countries used to compete in the event meanwhile it was expanded to 16 teams from 1996 edition onwards. UEFA expanded the European championship team from 16 to 24 in 2016.
  • Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system to be introduced in UEFA Euro championship in 2020 Pan-European event.
  • Germany holds the record of scoring and conceding most goals in the competition. They scored 72 goals till now meanwhile have conceded 48 as well.
  • Portugal is the only country to lose a European Championship final as hosts in 2004.