The first ever European Championship, formerly known as the European Nations’ Cup, was hosted by France in 1960, the first ever team who lifted the most sought trophy in football – The Henri Delaunay Trophy. The Henri Delaunay Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the European Championship, is one of the most desired on the planet with the FIFA World Cup the only one that surpasses it.
Henri Delaunay, the secretary of the French Football Federationand the first General Secretary of Union of European Football Associations, first came up with the idea of a continental competition in 1927. His vision for a European international tournament finally happened with the final of the first tournament in 1960, five years after his passing. However, the trophy being contested was named in his honour.
Pierre Delaunay, son of Henri, was responsible for the creation of the original trophy. According to the UEFA website; “The responsibility for creating the original silverware went to Pierre Delaunay, son of Henri, the visionary behind the competition. Henri Delaunay died in 1955 before seeing his idea come to fruition, but the updated prize is testament to his enduring legacy, maintaining its classic style.”
Since the first tournament it has been awarded to the winning team for them to keep for four years, until the next tournament. This trophy bore the words “Coupe d’Europe”, “Coupe Henri Delaunay”, and “Championnat d’Europe” on the front and a juggling boy on the back. This was done so because UEFA wanted to improve the quality of the trophy as well as the scale.
In 1960, the second version of the trophy is based on the original designed by Arthus-Bertrand in Paris. It measures 18 cm and weighs 2 kg more than the original, composed of fine silver, and retains its historical name. Unlike the original, which was the work of goldsmith Chobillon, the names of the winners that appeared on the base were engraved on the back, which weighs 8 kg and is 60 cm high.
In 2008, the Henri Delaunay Trophy was remodelled to make it larger, as the old trophy was overshadowed by UEFA’s other trophies such as the new European Champion Clubs’ Cup. Asprey, a renowned goldsmith and jeweler, has a great deal of experience in trophy-making, took over the production and the latest manufacture of the trophy’s modern equivalent.
The first captain to hold it aloft was Iker Casillas in 2008 when Spain beat Germany 1-0. Previously, the players and coaches of the winning team and the runner-up team were awarded gold and silver medals, respectively until UEFA decided that losing semi-finalists would no longer receive medals from the 2016 edition onwards, while Bronze medals were awarded until the 1980 edition.
The inaugural tournament, which took place over the course of 22 months between 1958 and 1960, was comprised of 17 participating nations that are affiliated to UEFA. The tournament was formatted as teams played a home and away leg and the resulting top four would then travelled to France to compete in the finals. Soviet Union was the first ever recipient of the HenriDelaunay Trophy.