In every football clash, there is a hero that stands out. This particular player either brought the win for their team or created an impact to European football. The European Championships produced some of the most iconic players of all time and greatest names in football. Here are some of the most iconic legends and finals here of every European Championship.
EURO 1976: Antonin Panenka (Czechoslovakia)
Only four countries were qualified in the finals, with the tournament consisting of the semi-finals, a third place play-off, and the final. This was also the last tournament in which the hosts had to qualify for the final stage. It was also the only time that matches were decided after extra time, either on penalties or by goals scored. Final score: Czechoslovakia 2-2 West Germany (Czechs won 5-3 on penalties).
During the penalties, the first seven tries converted into a goal until Uli Hoeness halted West Germany’s fourth attempt. The Czechs fate was in the hands of Antonin Panenka. This was the first time that a penalty was taken but eventually it became famous. Panenka stepped up to take the decisive spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out and chip the ball down the middle of the goal.The rest is history.
EURO 1980: Horst Hrubesch (West Germany)
In 1980 edition held in Italy, the expansion to eight-nation team tournament was introduced. It was the first edition of Euro with group stage, the last that features a third-place play-off. It was the first time that a group stage was introduced in the tournament, with the winners of each groups heading straight to the final round. Final score: West Germany 2-1 Belgium.
Horst Hrubesch was the accidental hero of West Germany’s triumph in that year. During the intense matchup, Hrubesch took the lead for West Germany before René Vandereycken equalised for Belgium with a penalty shootout that lead to extra time.Hrubesch rescued the team and sealed the win by beating Belgium goalkeeper. He was only a replacement in the squad after Schalke’s injury.
EURO 1984: Michel Platini (France)
France were chosen as hosts in the 1984 edition of the tournament. They won all three of their group games, qualifying with Denmark at the expense of Belgium and Yugoslavia. Their victory extended until the final when they beat Spain. It was the first European Championship final to feature two countries which still exist. Final score: France 2-0 Spain.
Michel Platini’s nine goals remains a record in a single European Championship. French manager Michel Hildago signed off following the win and France’s Platini and Tigana had been the stars of Euro 1984 and will be remembered for peaking during a major championship and leading his country to glory. The home soil win is one of France’s glorious moments in the European football.
EURO 1988: Netherlands v Soviet Union
In the 1988 final, it was the Republic of Ireland who gave the most surprises as they took on USSR. A rematch of the 1974 World Cup final happened with West Germany taking over the Netherlands. It was one of the most star studded final in the Euro history, contested by players who were either all-time greats or at peak of their careers. Final score: Netherlands 2-0 Soviet Union.
Marco van Basten hit an astonishing top-spin volley over the head of the best goalkeeper in Europe. It became one of the best goals scored in a Euros final and the greatest single strike in any top-level final. Not only did it secure the Netherlands their first ever major title, that goal also won him the Golden Boot for the tournament and became a timeless symbol of footballing culture.