UEFA Euros: The Best Plays Ever Seen in Tournament History

UEFA Euros: The Best Plays Ever Seen in Tournament History

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updated at June 15, 2024 at 11:05 AM
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When it comes to soccer spectacles, the UEFA Euros have consistently delivered some of the most memorable moments in the sport's rich history. From jaw-dropping goals to breathtaking saves, the tournament has it all. Here, we take a trip down memory lane to revisit the best plays ever witnessed in the UEFA Euros. Buckle up for a nostalgic ride!

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Fernando Torres, Spain, Jens Lehmann, Germany,  Philipp Lahm, UEFA, Euro 2008, Euro 2024.
Fernando Torres scores past Jens Lehmann in the UEFA Euro 2008 final between Spain and Germany on June 29, 2008, in Vienna. (Photo by Stewart Kendall/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images

UEFA Euros: The Most Iconic Plays in History

1. Marco van Basten's Impossible Volley (Euro '88)

Let's start with a goal that defies physics. Marco van Basten's volley against the Soviet Union in the 1988 final is the stuff of legends. The angle from which the Dutch star scored was considered nearly impossible because he was very close to the sideline, making the target area of the goal appear very narrow. However, van Basten struck the ball with such precision and power that it sailed over the goalkeeper and into the far corner. It's a goal that still leaves soccer fans scratching their heads and wondering, ‘How on earth did he do that?’

Fun Fact: This goal was so good that even the opposing goalkeeper, Rinat Dasayev, later admitted he couldn't believe what he saw.

2. Panenka's Cheeky Penalty (Euro '76)

Before Panenka, penalties were just penalties. However, Antonín Panenka had other ideas during the 1976 final. With the weight of the match on his shoulders, the Czechoslovakian approached the penalty spot with a deceptive calm. Instead of blasting the ball or picking a corner, he executed a delicate chip straight down the middle, leaving the German keeper, Sepp Maier, diving to his left in disbelief. This audacious move, both risky and ingenious, instantly immortalised the 'Panenka' penalty, showcasing nerves of steel and supreme confidence. This audacious move not only won Czechoslovakia the tournament but also introduced the world to the 'Panenka' penalty - a move that's still imitated today, albeit rarely with the same finesse.

Pro Tip: Trying a Panenka in your local Sunday league might not endear you to your teammates unless you can pull it off with Panenka's cool.

3. Paul Gascoigne’s Solo Effort (Euro '96)

Ah, Gazza! A man who epitomised the genius-madness continuum of soccer. His goal against Scotland in UEFA Nations League '96 is unforgettable. After flicking the ball over Colin Hendry with a deft touch, the Englishman controlled it perfectly as it dropped, then unleashed a powerful volley that rocketed past a helpless Andy Goram. The precision and flair of this play left the Scottish defence and fans in stunned silence, marking one of the most memorable moments in Euro '96. The celebration - replicating the infamous dentist’s chair incident - was as iconic as the goal itself.

Did You Know? Gazza's goal was named the best goal in the history of Wembley Stadium.

4. Gianluigi Buffon's Superhuman Save (Euro 2012)

Let's give the goalkeepers some love. When you think of jaw-dropping saves, Buffon's stop against Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final is in a league of its own. As Mats Hummels' powerful header rocketed towards the top corner, it seemed destined to be a goal. However, the Italian legend, with lightning-fast reflexes and the grace of a panther, leapt through the air and tipped the ball around the post. This save wasn't just about agility; it was a masterclass in positioning and timing, performed on the grand stage of a UEFA semi-final, under immense pressure. That's why it stands out as one of the greatest goalkeeper moments in football history. It was a moment of pure reflex and genius from one of soccer’s greatest ever custodians.

Goalie Wisdom: Buffon’s save is a reminder that even in a game of stars, the goalkeepers often have the final say.

Gianluigi Buffon, Italy, Euro 2012, UEFA, Germany, Mats Hummels.
Gianluigi Buffon punches the ball in the Euro 2012 semi-final between Germany and Italy. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/GettyImages)
Source: Getty Images

5. Fernando Torres’ Clincher (Euro 2008)

Fernando Torres was known as 'El Niño' for his boyish charm and lethal finishing. His goal in the 2008 final against Germany sealed Spain's first major trophy in 44 years. Outpacing Philipp Lahm, Torres delicately chipped the ball over the advancing Jens Lehmann. It wasn't just a goal; it was a declaration of Spain's golden era in soccer.

Quick Insight: This goal was the beginning of Spain’s dominance, leading to their historic treble of Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, and Euro 2012.

6. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Gravity-Defying Header (Euro 2016)

Cristiano Ronaldo is no stranger to spectacular goals, but his header against Wales in the Euro 2016 semi-final was something else. Rising majestically above the defence, CR7 seemed to hang in the air before powering the ball into the net. It was a moment that showcased his athleticism and sheer determination.

Stat Attack: Ronaldo’s leap was measured at an astounding 2.65 metres - almost as high as an NBA player’s vertical jump!

Wrapping Up

The UEFA Euros have given us countless moments of joy, heartache, and sheer awe. These plays are more than just highlights; they are testaments to the beauty and unpredictability of soccer. Whether it's an outrageous volley, a cheeky penalty, or a gravity-defying save, these moments remind us why we love the beautiful game.

As we gear up for UEFA 2024, let's cherish these memories and look forward to new legends being made. After all, in soccer, anything is possible.

Keep an eye on Easybet for the latest updates and thrilling betting opportunities on the Euros 2024. If you’re feeling lucky, don’t miss the chance to Bet Your Way to Europe! May your bets be lucky, and your hearts ready for some more unforgettable soccer magic!

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