The 5 Best UEFA Euro Tournaments of All Time: France’s Golden Goals, Greece’s Miracle Run Make List

The 5 Best UEFA Euro Tournaments of All Time: France’s Golden Goals, Greece’s Miracle Run Make List

Joel Reyes
June 7, 2024 at 10:02 AM
In this article:
UEFA European Championship logo
France logo
Spain logo
Greece logo
  • France scored golden goals in the semis and finals of Euro 2000 to win the title
  • Greece made history with their Euro 2004 victory, beating Portugal in the final
  • Michel Platini scored nine goals in the 1984 Euro, helping France win the title

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The UEFA European Championship is one of the biggest football tournaments in the world.

The quadrennial event has delivered plenty of drama ever since its inception in 1960.

Sports Brief looks at the five best UEFA Euro tournaments of all time ahead of the 17th staging of the event this June.

Euro 2004, Euro 2000, European Championship, Euro 1976, Euro 2008, Euro 1984, Zinedine Zidane, Xavi, Michel Platini, David Villa, David Trezeguet, Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta, Spain, France, Greece
Didier Deschamps lifts the Euro 2000 trophy; Greece's Vassilios Lakis lifts the Euro 2004 trophy; Michel Platini kisses the Euro 1984 trophy. Images: Michael Mayhew/ Richard Sellers/ Pool PERRIN.
Source: Getty Images

5 Best Euro Finals of all time

1. Euro 2000

Euro 2000 will forever be remembered by football fans as that international tournament delivered from start to finish.

A total of 85 goals were scored in that 16-team event, which was hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands. The group stage provided plenty of thrills, with 24 matches yielding 65 goals alone.

Among the games that caught the fans' attention during the opening round were Portugal's 3-2 victory over England, Netherlands' dramatic 3-2 win over France, Spain's heart-stopping 4-3 victory over Yugoslavia, and the epic 3-3 draw between Slovenia and Yugoslavia.

For the second time in the tournament's history, the golden goal system was used in the knockout round, and France benefited from its implementation.

Les Bleus qualified for the final after a thrilling 2-1 win over Portugal in the semis. Thierry Henry forced extra time after scoring an equaliser in the 51st minute.

Zinedine Zidane then sent the Portuguese packing with a penalty in the 117th minute. The French midfielder scored the golden goal after Abel Xavier was adjudged to have handled Sylvain Wiltord's shot attempt inside the box.

There was more drama to come for France in the final against Italy. Gli Azzurri looked like they had the championship in the bag when Marco Delvecchio scored the opening goal in the 55th minute.

Italy's lead lasted until second-half injury time when France somehow found an equaliser. Wiltord broke free on the left side of the box and sent a low drive squirming past Italian goalkeeper, Francesco Toldo, to tie the match at 1-1.

France completed the comeback in extra time, with David Trezeguet's golden goal in the 103rd minute handing the championship to the reigning World Cup winners.

2. Euro 2004

The 2004 edition of the European Championships saw an unlikely winner, with underdogs Greece recording a miracle run for the ages on their way to the title.

They advanced to the knockout stage at the expense of Spain, finishing as the second-best team in Group A with four points.

They then showed their defensive prowess in the knockout round, winning all three of their games there by a score of 1-0 to win the championship.

Greece silenced the home crowd in the final, with Angelos Charisteas scoring the winning goal in the 57th minute against Portugal.

Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo established themselves as the game's newest stars, leading England and Portugal to deep runs in this tournament.

The quarter-final showdown between those two nations was one of the best in Euro 2004, with Portugal edging past England in a thrilling penalty shootout.

3. Euro 2008

Euro 2008 saw the start of Spain's dominance on the international stage.

The vaunted tiki-taka system was implemented by coach, Luis Aragones, to maximum effect in the tournament, with Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Fernando Torres, and David Villa powering La Roja's march towards the championship.

Spain won all of their matches in the group stage, scoring eight goals in victories over Russia, Sweden, and Greece.

They buckled down on the defensive end in the knockout rounds, recording clean sheets in their matches against Italy, Russia, and Germany.

Fernando Torres starred for Spain in the final, scoring the game's lone goal in the 33rd minute.

It was unfortunate that fans were denied a Spain vs. Netherlands meeting in the semi-finals. The Dutch were unstoppable in the group stage, scoring nine goals in their wins against Italy, France, and Romania.

Their run ended in the quarter-finals, however, as they lost 3-1 to Russia in an upset.

Turkey's deep run in Euro 2008 also captured the imagination of football fans everywhere.

It looked like destiny was on their side after they scored last-gasp victories over the Czech Republic and Switzerland in the group stage to advance to the knockout round.

They created more magic in the quarter-finals, beating Croatia despite falling behind in the 119th minute.

Turkey found an equaliser in the dying seconds of extra time to force a penalty shootout, which they eventually won 3-1.

Turkey's tournament cruelly ended in the semi-finals after Miroslav Klose scored a 90th-minute winner for Germany.

4. Euro 1976

The 1976 European Championship made the list despite featuring only four teams in the tournament.

The four matches that they played were all blockbuster affairs, with Czechoslovakia, West Germany, Yugoslavia, and the Netherlands combining for 19 goals.

Czechoslovakia defeated the Netherlands 3-1 in the semis, with Zdenek Nehoda and Frantisek Vesely scoring goals in the 114th and 118th minutes.

West Germany also needed extra time to beat Yugoslavia in the semi-finals. They came from two goals down to record the 4-2 win, with Dieter Muller scoring a hat-trick.

Czechoslovakia and West Germany's final showdown will forever be remembered for how it ended. A penalty shootout was needed to determine the champion after the match finished 2-2 following regulation and extra time.

Antonin Panenka sealed Czechoslovakia's victory in style, scoring a penalty that now bears his name. Fans couldn't believe it when he hit a deft chip down the middle for the game-winning spot kick.

5. Euro 1984

Michel Platini cemented his status as one of the all-time greats with his spectacular performance in the 1984 European Championship.

He scored a whopping nine goals in that tournament, leading France to the Euro title, per The Guardian.

He helped Les Bleus record a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Portugal in the semi-finals, scoring a dramatic match-winner in the 119th minute.

Platini also starred in the final against Spain, opening the scoring with a goal in the 57th minute. They went on to win 2-0 in the championship match to send the home fans into a frenzy.

Euro 2000: France’s Epic Golden Goal Triumph Over Italy

Sports Brief reported that France won the 2000 European Championships with a spectacular golden goal by David Trezeguet in extra time, defeating Italy in the final.

The tournament, hosted in Belgium and the Netherlands, saw Les Bleus overcome qualification challenges and a tough group stage.

Their talented squad, featuring stars like Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry, shone brightly.

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Joel Reyes
Joel Reyes is a sports editor at with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines. He has eight years of work experience in sports writing.