Euro 2012: All the Stats and Facts from Previous Championships
The European Championships are now less than five days away and the excitement for the main competition for national teams governed by UEFA continues to build.
The tournaments are usually entertaining with matches played at a higher intensity to the World Cup due to the small space between fixtures, former World player of the year, Zinedine Zidane once commented that the European Championships were much harder to win than the World Cup itself.
So to get you all in the mood here are some European Championship facts and useless bits of trivia which you can use whilst sat in the pub to impress your mates or maybe this will be your first time watching the Euros and you would like to know the history, either way enjoy!
The European Football Championship was originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, changing its name to the current one used in 1968.
The name is usually shortened down to the form of "Euro 2012" or whatever year is relevant although this was unheard of before Euro 96.
Like the World Cup it is held every four years, and is held in the even numbered years between World Cups.
The Man Behind It All.
Plans to bring The European Championships to life were first discussed in 1928 by a man called Henri Delaunay but it didn't come to fruition till 1960, five years after Delaunays death. Out of respect the trophy was named after the man whos ideas brought the tournament to life.
The trophy was made by Delaunays son, Pierre.
The Henri Delaunay trophy had largely remained the same since the first tournament in 1960 but in 2008 it was remodelled to make it slightly larger.
It is made of sterling silver and it now weighs 8 kilograms and stands at 60cm. A figure juggling a ball and a marble plinth what were on the back of the original have been removed.
All the winning teams have been engraved on the back of the trophy.
From 1960 to 1980 only four teams qualified for the Euros this then changed to eight teams and that format ran up to Euro 96. From Euro 96 up to this years tournament the number of entrants changed to 16 teams, which would be split into four groups of four. The top two of each group would progress to a eight team quarter final.
Euro 2012 will be the last year of this format, the next Championship will play host to 24 entrants.
The First Championship
The first European Nations Cup took place in France in 1960 and was won by the Soviet Union.
Four teams entered the competition with the Soviet Union beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final. Czechoslovakia beat France 2-0 in the third place match.
Nine different nations have been crowned European Champions.
Germany have been the most successful nation winning the tournament three times.
Germany and Yugoslavia have been the least successful sides in the Final, losing three times each.
1960 - Soviet Union
1964 - Spain
1968 - Italy
1972 - West Germany
1976 - Czechoslovakia
1980 - West Germany
1984 - France
1988 - Netherlands
1992 - Denmark
1996 - Germany
2000 - France
2004 - Greece
2008 - Spain
In the summer of 1992 the European Championships took to Sweden and one team who wasn't going was Denmark. That all changed though when war torn Yugoslavia was not allowed to compete and Denmark, who finished second behind Yugoslavia in qualifying, were called up instead to replace them.
The Denmark players were quite literally pulled off the beaches they were holidaying on and made their way to Sweden. One person was notable from his absence. Michael Laudrup who was quite possibly Denmarks greatest ever player decided to stay on his holidays and declined the call up.
Despite this Denmark went on to stun the world by winning the tournament. Knocking out Holland in the semi finals, with Schmeichel saving a Van Basten penalty, to then beating the reigning European Champions Germany 2-0 in the final.
Euro 2004 started off being a shocker. Germany, Spain and Italy were knocked out in the group stages with France going out in the quarter finals but nothing compared to what was in store for the final. Greece, who was ranked 35th in the world at the beginning of the tournament, beat the hosts Portugal to claim the biggest upset in football history. Greece had only ever qualified for one European Championship in their history and their victory in the opening game was their first at a major tournament.
Italy and France hold the record for hosting the most championships, 2.
Euro 96 which was hosted by England attracted the most fans to games. During the tournament a total of 1,276,137 fans attended matches with an average of 41,166 per match.
Germany in 1988 had the higher average attendance of 56,656 but staged fewer games due to a smaller format.
The tournament will have been co-hosted three times after Euro 2012. Belgium & Holland 2000, Austria & Switzerland 2004 and now Ukraine & Poland.
Euro 2016 & Euro 2020
Euro 2016 will be hosted by France which will give it the record of hosting the Championship the most times.
Euro 2020 hasn't been formalised yet but has received bids from Turkey, Georgia and a joint bid from Scotland, Wales and Republic of Ireland.
During Euro 96 on the day England played Scotland a bomb went off in Manchester city centre which injured 212 people and caused £700 million worth of damage. Five days after the attack the IRA claimed responsibility for the attack. This is the one and only time there has been a terrorist attack in a host country during a European Championship.
The first golden goal ever scored in European Championship was struck by Germanys Oliver Bierhoff in the final of Euro 96. This was Germanys third time winning the tournament and also their first as a unified country.
The Coin Toss
In the Championships of 1968 there was no penalties to settle the semi final between Italy and Soviet Union so what was called upon to decide a winner? A coin toss. With a stadium of 70,000 fans in silence awaiting the outcome, Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti made the lucky call to send Italy to the final.
Still with the 1968 Championships and after Italy had relied on the first ever coin toss to get them to the final they then had to replay on the first ever Final replay to land the trophy. After drawing 1-1 with Yugoslavia they had to wait two days to finally get their hands on the trophy by beating Yugoslavia 2-0.
Portugal & Greece
Euro 2004 will always be remembered for Greece returning home triumphant but they also claimed another record becoming, along with Portugal, the first teams to repeat the opening fixture of the tournament in the final.
In Euro 96 Germany And Czech Republic opened their group fixtures, but not the tournament, and also met in the final
The first Championship in 1960 was without Spain after their right wing government pulled the team out so they didn't have to play the more impressive and Communist Soviet Union.
So Close, Yet so Far
If you think of Luxembourg you think of one of the whipping boys of European football, but at the 1964 Championship they very nearly made it through to the finals. After beating Holland in the last 16 in qualifying, they narrowly lost to Denmark in the qualifying quarter finals replay 1-0 after drawing the first game 5-5.
Yugoslavia produced some quality players over the years they competed in the championships but suffered enough disappointment during their time. Having lost the two finals they contested in they also hold the record for the heaviest defeats. Losing 5-0 to Denmark in 1984 and being hammered 6-1 by Holland at Euro 2000.
27 - The number of nations to enter the European Championships since it began
1,583- The number of players to play in the championships
17 - The record amount of wins held by Holland
12- The record amount of defeats held by Denmark
12 - The record amount of draws held by Italy
32 - The record amount of games played over the championships held by Holland
4 - The record amount of shootouts competed in over championships held by Holland
100% - Penalty shootout record held by Czech Republic, Portugal & Turkey
0% - Penalty shoot out record held by Croatia & Sweden
51 - The record amount of goals scored over the championships held by Holland
506 - The record amount of fouls committed over the championships held by Holland
47 - The record amount of yellow cards collected over the championships held by Germany & Portugal
3 - The record amount of red cards collected over the championships held by Yugoslavia, Russia & France
67% - Best group stage win percentage over championships held by Portugal
2.6% - Worst shot conversion over championships held by Poland
9 - The record goal scorer over the championships held by Michel Platini
2 - The record amount of hat tricks scored over championships held by Michel Platini
6 - The record amount of assists over the championships held by Karel Poborsky
9 - The record amount of clean sheets over the championships held by Edwin Van Der Sar
843 - The record amount of passes over the championships held by Zinedine Zidane
94.99% - The record pass completion rate over the championships held by Xavi
35 - The record amount of fouls committed over the championships held by Gio Van Bronkhurst
6 - The record amount of yellow cards received over the championships held by Giorgos Karagounis
2 - The record amount of red cards received over the championships held by Petar Houbtchev & Radoslav Latal
Thanks for getting this far and I hope you enjoyed it whilst getting you all ready for more history to made in the coming weeks.