April 20, 2021, Tuesday
२०७८ बैशाख ७

UEFA Euro Cup 2020: European football history’s iconic moments

UEFA Euro Cup 2020: European football history’s iconic moments

Pandemic is surely taking toil on football as well. European Football Championship is almost around the corner amidst the certainty – whether the tournament will take place or not; whether the games will be played in the presence of fans on the stands or not; questions will be raised over the validity of winning team and so on.

UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020 to June 2021 was considered by football fans with heavy heart. With league games played following strict protocols domestic leagues provided glim hope for lovers of this wonderful game.

Euro Cup 2020 or 2021 will go down as one of the most unique football tournament of all time – in the future. However, lets have a look over the past with these amazing and iconic moments in the history of European campaign.

1. First Euro games
In 1960 seventeen teams within Europe vied for the title in what used to be called European Nations’ Cup. Then, Soviet Union triumph over Yugoslavia was the first time the championship trophy was won.

Amidst Cold War – Soviet Union & Yugoslav captains Neto and Kostic before start of 1960 European Nations Final. (Img src-footballmakehistory)

2. Coin toss deciding Italy a winner
No – Italy did win the title by beating Yugoslavia 2-0 in the final showdown. But it is the nature they reached the final that was amazing. Italy locked horns with then, Soviet Union which remained goalless for entire 90 plus extra time 30 minutes. There were no penalty rules at the time. Referee Kurt Tschenscher pulled out the coin and Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti called out tail and they were through to the finals. What a way to reach the finals, right?

3. Panenka and Pirlo
Antonin Panenka won the 1976 championship for Czechoslovakia via his own invention, so unique that West Germany goalkeeper was left flapping and the world gasping air. The player shooting the decisive penalty shoot-out opted to go for a cool chip in the middle.

Looks cruel when you are at the receiving end – but it is an art. And an artist such as Andres Pirlo knows the value and how it is done -once again. Pirlo’s audacious move to shatter the hyped goalkeeper Joe Hart also sank England’s 2012 hope for long awaited win in the competition.

4. Headbutt, Sending off and France
Well, there is a relation between head butt and France. Zinedine Zidane got marching order in World cup final. But way before the incident in 2006, it was Manuel Amoros playing against Denmark who inaugurated the rituals. Amoros was dancing through the Danish defense until Desper Olsen brought him down for a whistle. Incensed, Amoros first threw the ball straight at Olsen’s face and later head butted right in front of the official.

5. Magical Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is probably the best player of his generation to have flourished not only for the club he served but also for his country. Right after helping France to win the World Cup 1998, the mazy dribble and insane ball controls were all on display.

Many will remember his sublime football performance against Portugal, though the game was won via penalty kick. As much as the Portugal players and their fans were fuming, the world was just in awe watching his game.

6. Introducing Rooney
Wayne Rooney announced his arrival in the second biggest football stage. Playing for Everton at the time, the teenage Rooney had overwhelming confidence and unreal power, stamina and raw footballing genius.

Although his time was cut short due to injury, he was joint second top scorer along future club teammate Ruud Van Nistelrooy in the tournament with four goal sin Euro 2004. Since then, he has become one of the most decorated player at club football, winning galore of trophies and accolades

7. Minnow Greece upset Portugal
As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said “Mountains are there to be climbed”, Greece had to overcome the Euro power house Portugal in the 2004 final. And Greece actually beat Portugal twice on their way to the title- first at the inaugural game against the host country and later in the last game of the tournament. Bulldozing through the likes of England and Netherlands, Portugal were the favorites to brush aside the minnow. A goal from Angelo Charisteas was enough to decide the tie.

8. One Mario Balotelli shirtless celebration
Loathe him or like him, but one thing for sure, Mario Balotelli was one of the talented and fearsome strikers in Europe. His raw talent was on full display against Germany in Euro 2012. Scoring two goals for Italy, first a typical poacher’s header from close range and second a clever run to beat the offside trap and get miles away from the closed defender Philip Lahm, Balotelli smashed the ball home, nearly shredding the net. Well, that was not the highlight. He took off his shirt, posed like a pumped Hulk for eternity – now, that is how you celebrate it.