Most of you probably remember the Spain 1-0 victory over German team in Euro-2008 finals. But do you know when it all started? An idea of European football tournament for nations was proposed in the late 1920-s. However, it was not until 1960 that the tournament was held. The hosts were France and 4 teams competed in the “final stage”. The team of Soviet Union beat Yugoslavia to become first European champions. Every 4 years the final have been staged ever since, expanding from 4 to 8 teams and then to 16. The next expansion is going to be at the 2016 tournament – 24 teams are due to take part in the final stage. The tournament has known numerous upsets – with Denmark unlikely winners in 1992 – they actually did not even qualify, finishing second behind Yugoslavia in their qualifying group, but the latter was banned because of civil war. 2004 Greece triumph was even bigger surprise, however, far less welcome by most football fans as the team playing almost perfect defense and rare counterattacks.
Here is the list of European championship winners (the tournament first name was “European Nations cup” – but now it is long forgotten…) from the very first to the very last:
1972 (West) Germany
1980 (West) Germany
In total – Germany won 3 times, Spain and France – 2 times, USSR, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Denmark, Greece – once.