The European Championship is one of THE most prestigious tournaments in the world right now, played every four years since 1960; and there have been some miraculous moments through the years. Here’s a list of the top six moments of the European Championship:
1. HAT-TRICK FOR SPAIN
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After winning the Euros in 2008 and the FIFA World Cup in 2010 the Spanish international team went on to win their third successive major international trophy in 2012 when they defeated Italy 4 – 0 in the Euro 2012 Final and displayed just how dominant that Spanish team was. That team under Iker Casillas remains the only team to win back-to-back European Championships in the competition’s history.
2. THE 2004 SHOCK
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Greece have qualified for only four out of sixteen UEFA European Championships, but back in 2004, Greece shook the world after winning the Euros as true underdogs. Greece found themselves in pot 4 of the tournament before it began and ended in a group with Spain, Portugal, and Russia. Greece were lucky enough to qualify for the next stage as they were equal on points with Spain but advanced on the basis of scoring more goals.
On their road to glory, they defeated France and the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals and semifinals respectively before defeating Portugal 1 – 0 in the final and being crowned European Champions, for their first major international Football trophy.
3. CLASSIC ZLATAN
The 2004 Euros was something special. Sweden topped their group which included Italy, Denmark, and Bulgaria and in their group game against Italy, Sweden found themselves trailing by a goal before some Zlatan magic came into play. In the final few minutes of the match, an outrageous flick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped the Swedes secure a draw and send them to the top of the group and knock Italy out of the competition.
4. THE VIKING CLAP
Before the 2016 Euros, no one knew about the Viking Clap as much as they do now and all the credit goes to Iceland and their fans. Entering Euro 2016 was an accomplishment in itself, as a country with a population of just 330,000, became the smallest country to ever qualify for a major tournament. Iceland’s 2016 European Championship journey is one for the ages, especially for their round of 16 victory against a star-studded England. Sigurdsson and Sigthorsson scored to cancel out Wayne Rooney’s penalty and kick England out of the tournament. The moment went down as one of the most humiliating in English football and prompted former England manager Roy Hodgson to hand in his resignation.
5. THE DAY EDER BECAME A LEGEND
Portugal went on to the 2016 Euro final to take on France at their home turf as the tournament’s underdogs. With the game still at 0 – 0 and Portugal having to take a gutted Cristiano Ronaldo off due to injury, out came Eder who had never scored for Portugal in competitions. The 28yr old didn’t play a major role in the entire tournament but stepped up to the occasion when it mattered the most and achieved a feat that even the greats like Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo haven’t, as his goal delivered Portugal its first international trophy. Eder crushed France’s hopes after his 25-yard shot ended up in the back of the net during extra time. As he lifted the European Championship that night, he became a Legend.
6. THE BALOTELLI STUNNER
How can we talk about Euros and not mention Balotelli’s stunner against Germany in the 2012 Euros’ semi-finals. Balotelli scored an early header to give Italy their lead and soon produced something out of this world. Montolivo’s through ball set Mario free who had a look at goal from a long way out and fired the ball into the top right corner giving Manuel Neuer absolutely no chance. The celebration made the moment even more special, as he took off his t-shirt and displayed his ripped upper body which came to be known as the HULK celebration.
[Image Credit: UEFA Euro 2020]