The history of European Championship

European Championship trophyThe UEFA European Championship (commonly known as Euro and not to be confused with European Cup) has existed since 1960. It ranks next to FIFA World Cup as the most prestigious completion for national teams.

The first edition of the UEFA European Championship included only four teams (Czechoslovakia, France, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia), but it would be expanded to eight teams in 1980. Since when, the tournament has been expanded with more teams on two additional occasions.


Though the first European Championship was held in 1960, the idea behind it is much older. It dates back to 1927, when the French Football Federation’s administrator Henri Delaunay first proposed a pan-European football tournament. Despite the fact that he later became the first General Secretary of UEFA, Delaunay had already passed away by the time the tournament was officially started. In his honor, the tournament trophy was named after him.

The Henri Delaunay trophy contains a figure of a juggling boy on the back and the words "Championnat d'Europe,” and "Coupe Henri Delaunay" on the front. In 2008, it was remodeled to make it larger and more in line with UEFA’s more modern trophies. The new trophy is made of sterling silver, weighs 8 kilograms (18 lb), and is 60 centimeters (24 in) tall. The names of the winning countries are now engraved on the back.

The two most successful nations in the tournament’s history are Germany and Spain, with three titles each. Spain is the only nation to successfully defend its title, having done so in 2012. Germany has played the most matches (53), scored the most goals (75) and recorded the most victories (28). In 1984, France became the only nation to win all of its matches at a tournament (5 out of 5). In 1992, Denmark won the title with only two victories in five games.

Over the years, the European Champions has gotten more popular with TV audiences. In 2016, the total live audience for the expanded 51-match tournament grew to 2 billion viewers. When compared to Euro 2012, this amounted to an increase of 100 million. These totals were mostly raised by audiences in Brazil and China, where the 1300 GMT slot had a big impact. The final match between Portugal and France attracted 600 million people.

All Euro host countries

1960: France
1964: Spain
1968: Italy
1972: Belgium
1976: Yugoslavia
1980: Italy
1984: France
1988: West Germany
1992: Sweden
1996: England
2000: Belgium and Netherlands
2004: Portugal
2008: Austria and Switzerland
2012: Poland and Ukraine
2016: France
2020 (2021): England, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Denmark, Italy, Azerbaijan, Russia and Scotland

This 2020 edition of the marked a historical change with shared hostship. The matches were played in eleven countries at eleven stadiums.


Teams with most titles and finals

Statistics of all national teams that have won or played a final together with numbers of participation in European Championship.

Table 1. Most successful national teams in UEFA European Championship
Team Titles Finals Participation
Germany 3 6 14
Spain 3 4 11
France 2 2 10
Italy 2 2 10
Czechoslovakia 1 2 3
Portugal 1 2 8
Denmark 1 1 9
Greece 1 1 4
Netherlands  1 1 10
Soviet Union 1 1 5

In addition, England have won silver and Belgium, Czechoslovakia (2), Hungary and Netherlands have won bronze. Since 1984, no match of third place game have been played.

See also UEFA European Championship football stats.

All Euro finals

All finals including winners and runners-up of Euro 1960-2020.

Table 2. Finals and results
Year Home team* Away team* Result
2020† Italy England 4-3 (pen.)
2016 Portugal France 1-0
2012 Spain Italy 4-0
2008 Germany Spain 0-1
2004 Portugal Greece 0-1
2000 France Italy 2-1
1996 Czech Republic Germany 1-2
1992 Denmark Germany 2-0
1988 Soviet Union Netherlands 0-2
1984 France Spain 2-0
1980 Belgium West Germany 1-2
1976 Czechoslovakia West Germany 5-3 (pen.)
1972 West Germany Soviet Union 3-0
1968 Italy Yugoslavia 2-0 (replay)‡
1964 Spain Soviet Union 2-1
1960 Soviet Union Yugoslavia 2-1 (a.e.t.)

* The home and away team are only technical.
† This is the official year, but the final tournament was played in 2021.
‡ The first match ended 1-1 after 120 minutes.
a.e.t. stands for after extra time.
pen. stands for penalties, meaning the match was decided after penalty shootout.

Numbers of participants and games

Table 3 shows the numbers of participating team in all European Championships. The numbers in the second column concerns the final stage and the third column all teams that took part in the qualification. In addition, you can see the numbers of games (qualification games excluded) in the fourth column.

Table 3. Participating teams in all EURO tournaments
Year Teams
2020 24 55 51
2016 24 53 51
2012 16 51 31
2008 16 50 31
2004 16 50 31
2000 16 49 31
1996 16 47 31
1992 8 33 15
1988 8 32 15
1984 8 32 15
1980 8 31 14
1976 4 32 4
1972 4 32 4
1968 4 31 5
1964 4 28 4
1960 4 17 4


2016: The final phase included group play with six groups, which two or three teams each did advance from. The knockout stage consisted of round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.
1996-2012: The final phase included group play with four groups, which two teams each did advance from. The knockout stage consisted of quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.
1984-1992: The final phase included group play with two groups, which two teams each did advance from. The knockout stage consisted of semi-finals and a final.
1980: No semi-finals were played. The group winners played each other in the final and the second placed teams in the groups played a third-place match.
1960-1976: The final tournament phase consisted of semi-finals, third place game and final (five games were played in 1968 since the final were decided on a replay).

Top goalscorers

These players have made most goals in European Championship (all tournanments).

Christiano Ronaldo (14 goals), Michel Platini (9 goals), Alan Shearer (7 goals), Antoine Griezmann (7 goals), Henry Thierry (6 goals), Zlatan Ibrahimović (6 goals), Patrick Kluivert (6 goals), Nuno Gomez (6), Ruud van Nistelrooy (6 goals), Wayne Rooney (6), Romelu Lukaku (6) and Álvaro Morata (6).