Euros football history: Facts about the Euros every football fan needs to know

Euros football history: Facts about the Euros every football fan needs to know

Kevin Omuya
June 12, 2024 at 7:37 PM
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Among the most esteemed events in world football is the UEFA European Championship, or the Euros. A tribute to the tradition, passion, and skill of European football, it rises tall. Football fans should know these key facts about the Euro's football history.

Fernando Torres (R) of Spain celebrates with goalscorer David Villa on June 10, 2008 (L) and Italian Jubel Nach Dem in Euro 2000. Photo: Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images
Source: UGC

Table of Сontents:

The original concept for the European Championships was mooted in the 1950s by Henri Delaunay, the inaugural General Secretary of UEFA. In 1960, France hosted the first tournament, featuring four teams. It has now grown to a 24-team structure.

Euros football history

French football administrator Henri Delaunay had the idea for the UEFA European Championship in the 1920s, but the first took place in 1960. The Soviet Union won the inaugural edition after beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final.

European Football cups history

There have been innumerable unforgettable moments and fairytales during the Euros. According to Goal, the 1992 edition saw the Danes win the tournament after being called up as a last-minute replacement for Yugoslavia. Greece also stunned the world by winning the 2004 tournament after defeating its host, Portugal.

EURO Cup Poland players
Arkadiusz Milik (POL), Lukasz Piszczek (POL), and Kamil Grosicki (POL) during the UEFA EURO 2016 match against Germany on June 16, 2016. Photo: Foto Olimpik
Source: Getty Images

Euro ball history

The evolution of the Euro ball mirrors the broader shifts in football gear and technology, from the early days of using simple leather balls to the modern days of using highly engineered versions. The tournament ball's style and name typically reflect the host nation's cultural background.

Facts about Euros football

The European Football Cup Championship feature the best players in Europe battling to lift their nation to glory. Every football fan should be aware of these essential facts regarding the tournament.

1. Evolution of Format

The tournament has grown in size and appeal over the years. The number of teams increased from four in 1960 to eight in 1980, sixteen in 1996, and twenty-four in 2016.

The enlargement, which allowed additional nations to participate, enhanced the tournament's diversity. The European football championship history is full of dramatic moments and underdog stories, thanks primarily to the format revisions, which have added excitement and unpredictability.

2. Qualification

The qualification process has also changed over the years. Hundreds of teams fight in a demanding qualification campaign to participate in the final tournament, up from a handful initially.

Spain Euro Cup
Mikel Merino of Spain celebrates a goal during the UEFA EURO 2024 European qualifier match against Cyprus on September 12, 2023. Photo: Joaquin Corcher
Source: Getty Images

3. Iconic moments

Despite not qualifying for the 1992 tournament, Denmark won the trophy as an underdog after replacing Yugoslavia and defeating Germany 2-0 in the final. With a 1-0 final victory over host nation Portugal, Greece shocked the football world in 2004 by becoming the tournament's runner-up.

4. Legendary players and teams

Germany and Spain are the most successful teams in the European champions, with three titles each. The Germans won in 1972, 1980, and 1996, while the Spaniards lifted the trophy in 1964, 2008, and 2012. Michel Platini holds the record for most goals in a single tournament, scoring nine for France in the 1984 competition.

5. European football record attendance

The record for a single match attendance was set in 1964 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid when 79,115 people watched Spain beat the Soviet Union in the final. The Netherlands' 6-1 quarterfinal victory over Yugoslavia in 2000 was the most significant upset in the tournament.

Euros football's previous winners

Netherlands EURO Cup winners
Dutch footballers and coaches celebrate after winning the UEFA Euro 1988 final between the Soviet Union and the Netherlands on 25th June 1988. Photo: Bongarts
Source: Getty Images

The winners of previous European football championships are genuinely the sport's elite. France (in 1984 and 2000) and Italy (in 1968 and 2021) are two more prominent winners, alongside Germany and Spain.

Ten national teams have emerged victorious in the 16 editions of the UEFA European Championship. Here is a list of every Euros winner throughout the years.


Year won


1972, 1980, 1996


1964, 2008, 2012


1968, 2021


1984, 2000

Soviet Union












Frequently asked questions

The history of the Euros features iconic moments, great players, and significant accomplishments that have made the tournament enjoyable. Here are more facts about the European competition.

1. When and where was the first Euros held?

In 1960, France hosted the first European Championships. The Soviet Union won the tournament after beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final.

2. How has the format of the Euros changed over the years?

The competition started with four teams in 1960. It grew from eight teams in 1980 to sixteen in 1996 and twenty-four in 2016. This growth is a direct result of the tournament's rising profile and level of competition.

Hungary Euro Cup
Hungary's players, including forward Dominik Szoboszlai (C), celebrate with their fans after winning against Montenegro on November 19, 2023. Photo: Arpad Kurucz
Source: Getty Images

3. Which countries have won the most Euros titles?

Germany and Spain are the most successful European teams, with three each.

4. Who holds the record for the most goals in a single Euros tournament?

Michel Platini holds the record for most goals in a single Euros tournament, scoring 9 for France in the 1984 championship.

5. What was the highest recorded attendance at a Euros match?

The highest recorded attendance at a Euros match was 79,115 during the 1964 final in Madrid, where Spain defeated the Soviet Union.

England Euro Cup
England's players celebrate during a victory party in Trafalgar Square in central London on August 1, 2022. Photo: Hollie Adams
Source: Getty Images

6. How are teams selected to compete in the Euros?

Teams compete in a qualification process in the years leading up to the tournament. The qualification process has evolved, with dozens of teams vying for a spot in the final game.

7. What was unique about Euro 2020?

In honour of the tournament's 60th anniversary, Euro 2020 was unlike any other Euro since it took place in eleven nations. At Wembley Stadium, Italy prevailed over England in a penalty shootout to claim victory in the tournament.

8. When and where will the next Euros be held?

The next Euros will be held in Germany in 2024, continuing the tradition of showcasing Europe's top talents. The event runs from 14 June to 14 July 2024.

Final word

Euros football history has had many spectacular moments, great players, and incredible accomplishments. Every year, the tournament writes a new chapter in the annals of football in Europe as the rest of the world watches. So, who will win the 2024 edition in Germany?

READ ALSO: UEFA Euro tickets: How much are they and where to find last-minute tickets

Sports Brief revealed details on how to access UEFA Euro tickets. The demand for gate passes keeps growing as Europe gears up for one of its biggest football showdowns. Follow the above link to discover ticket prices and where to access them.

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Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.