UEFA Euro 2020 cup at Wembley Stadium in Wembley Park

The History of the UEFA Euros

As thousands of eager football fans get ready to head to Wembley Stadium to watch the 2020 UEFA Euros, we thought it was the perfect time to recall the event’s storied past.

Since 1960, the Euros have been one of the major highlights of the international football calendar.

After being postponed from last summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic, fans all over the world are more excited than ever. All eyes are on Wembley Stadium as the players take to the field between 11 June and 11 July. Will you be there?

The Euros’ Origins

Alongside the FIFA World cup, the UEFA European Championship (known as the Euros) is the biggest football event for national teams. Founded in 1960, the first-ever Euros was held between just 4 teams – the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, France, and Czechoslovakia. By 1980, the event expanded to include eight teams. Today, 24 teams take part.

The idea for a European football championship dates to 1927. That’s when Henri Delaunay, the French Football Federation’s chief administrator, first dreamt of a pan-European football tournament. Sadly, Delaunay did not live to see his brainchild in action. Though he was the first General Secretary of the UEFA, he died in 1955, five years before the first game.

However, his name lives on – the Henri Delaunay trophy is awarded each tournament, emblazoned with “Championnat d’Europe,” and “Coupe Henri Delaunay” on the front and back.

Since 1960, the Euros have been held in fourteen different countries. England hosted in 1996 (more on that below) and hosts again this year in 2021.

1960: France (host) Soviet Union (winners)

1964: Spain (host), Spain (winners)

1968: Italy (host), Italy (winners)

1972: Belgium (host), West Germany (winners)

1976: Yugoslavia (host), Czechoslovakia (winners)

1980: Italy (host), Belgium (winners)

1984: France (host), France (winners)

1988: West Germany (host), Soviet Union (winners)

1992: Sweden (host), Denmark (winners)

1996: England (host), Germany (winners)

2000: Belgium and Netherlands (hosts), France (winners)

2004: Portugal (host), Portugal (winners)

2008: Austria and Switzerland (hosts), Germany (winners)

2012: Poland and Ukraine (host), Spain (winners)

2016: France (host), Portugal (winners)

Let’s face it – there’s no English football fan who was alive in 1996 who didn’t watch the heart-breaking semi-final match against Germany. As we prepare for the upcoming tournament, people across the country are reflecting on what went right and what went so wrong during the England vs Germany Euro 96 semi-final.

The Euro 96 semi-final match took place at Wembley Stadium on 26 June 1996. More than 76,000 spectators were in the stands, with tens of millions glued to the television all over the country. England was riding a high after beating Scotland on home turf at Wembley Stadium, but that soon came to an end.

The game was a nail biter after a 1-1 tie after 90 minutes of skilful play on both sides. After 30 more minutes of overtime, the game was decided by a penalty shootout. Andreas Kopke defended against Gareth Southgate’s 10 spectacular spot-kicks, while Andreas Moller succeeded from 12 yards just minutes later.

England was in disbelief. Will they turn the tables this year?

There’s no denying that 2020 was an unusual year. While the tournament is still officially called Euros 2020, the tournament was postponed for the first time in the Euros’ history.

Thankfully, Wembley Stadium is more than ready to host the event for a second time, and the fans couldn’t be more thrilled to attend. With plenty of extra safety and hygiene measures in place, spectators are in for a safe and exciting series of games.

It’s going to be an event to remember. Which matches are you looking forward to the most?