Interesting facts about the European Football Championship © scanpix

This summer will mark the seventeenth European Football Championship, where 24 of the strongest teams from the old continent will compete for the Henri Delaunay trophy. Organized since 1960 and already a tradition, the biggest European football event is interesting not only because of the mastery of the highest-level ball virtuosos but also because of its history.

Football news portal presents interesting facts about the European Football Championship that you may not have known.

Two countries that played in the first final no longer exist

The first European Football Championship in 1960 was called the Nations Cup and only four teams participated, of which two played in the final - they no longer exist.

The Soviet Union defeated Yugoslavia with a score of 2:1 and became the first tournament winner. As is known, the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, while Yugoslavia in 2003.

In 2004, Portugal's championship began and ended with a defeat to the same opponent

The hosts of the 2004 European Championship, the Portuguese team, had a perfect opportunity to become tournament champions for the first time in history, but an unexpected opponent stood in their way.

The Greeks defeated Portugal 2:1 in the opening match, later drew 1:1 with Spain, and finished the group stage with a 1:2 loss to Russia. Greece made it to the next stage only because they scored more goals.

In the quarterfinals, they beat France 1:0, in the semifinals they defeated the Czech Republic 1:0 after extra time, and finally, in the final, they triumphed with the same result, defeating the hosts and lifting the trophy. The Greek triumph in the tournament is considered the biggest sensation in the history of the European Championships.

The 1996 and 2000 finals were decided by the "Golden Goal"

In 1993, UEFA introduced the "Golden Goal" rule, where in extra time, which usually lasts two 15-minute halves, the first team to score a goal immediately wins the match.

This rule determined the winners of the 1996 and 2000 finals, which were Germany, defeating the Czech Republic, and France, beating Italy. Oliver Bierhoff scored the goal for Germany, while David Trezeguet did it for the French.

Until the 2020 tournament, England had not won the opening match

The England national team has always had many top-level footballers in their squad, but this did not guarantee success.

Not only has England not yet managed to triumph in the European Championship, but they also could not win the opening match until the 2020 tournament. Before that tournament, the "Three Lions" team played 5 draws and suffered 4 losses, but this streak was broken after Raheem Sterling's goal secured a 1:0 victory over Croatia.

Only twice has the winner of the European Championship been decided after a penalty shootout

The 1976 final between Czechoslovakia and Germany ended 2:2 after regular time.

In extra time, the teams also failed to determine a winner, so for the first time in the history of the European Championship finals, a penalty shootout was used.

After the legendary Antonin Panenka penalty, Czechoslovaks triumphed.

For a long time, this was the only such case, but history repeated itself in the 2020 final when after regular and extra time with the result 1:1, England and Italy went into penalties, after which the Italians emerged victorious.

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