Unforgettable moments as the Euros finally kick off

Great goals, underdog stories, drama, excitement and heartache - it must be time for the Euros.

Unforgettable moments as the Euros finally kick off SNS Group

Ever since the first European Championships in 1960, the tournament has showcased the very best the continent has to offer.

It has thrown up drama, spectacular goals, underdog fairytales and heartache – and that’s just Scotland, who return to the Euros after 25 years.

Here, on the day the delayed Euro 2020 finally kicks off, we remember some of the most memorable moments.

Great goals

Marco Van Basten: Netherlands v Soviet Union in 1988

Dutchman Marco Van Basten’s volley from an impossible angle in the 1988 final will always be remembered as one of the all-time great goals.

The AC Milan striker, recognised as one of the world’s best, was forced to retire before his 30th birthday due to a recurring injury.

Karel Poborský: Czech Republic v Portugal in 1996

The little winger won himself a move to Manchester United on the back of Czech Republic reaching the final of Euro 96.

His quarter-final goal against Portugal, when he expertly lofted the ball over Vitor Biah at Villa Park, will go down as his most memorable moment.

Old Firm stars on the big stage

Paul Gascoigne: (Rangers and England) v Scotland at Euro 96

Gazza produced one of the most memorable moments of Euro 96 when he scored a wonder goal against Scotland.

With Gary McAllister having just missed a penalty a few minutes earlier, the Rangers midfielder produced a sublime piece of skill to put England 2-0 up at Wembley. 

Paul McStay (Celtic and Scotland) v CIS at Euro 92

Scotland qualified for the Euros for the first time in 1992 and it was then-Celtic captain Paul McStay who produced the most memorable moment.

The midfield maestro put Scotland 1-0 up against the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a temporary side set up after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

The strike, which hit the post and goalkeeper, was not only Scotland’s first goal at the Euros, but it also sent them en route to their first victory.

Ally McCoist (Rangers and Scotland) v Switzerland at Euro 96

Rangers goal machine Ally McCoist was on the bench for Scotland’s first two Euro 96 games, a 0-0 draw with Holland and 2-0 defeat to England. 

But when they needed goals in the final match against Switzerland, manager Craig Brown called on his number nine.

Despite missing a few early chances, McCoist kept his head up and smashed in a rare long-range effort to give the Scots a 1-0 win.

The Villa Park victory was Scotland men’s last at a major tournament.

Henrik Larsson (Celtic and Sweden) v Bulgaria at Euro 2004

During his seven years at Celtic, Larsson scored more goals at major tournaments than any other Scotland-based player.

But it was his diving header against Bulgaria in a 5-0 victory at Euro 2004 that will live longest in the memory.

Larsson’s effort was voted the best goal of the competition, with the Celtic Park legend also named in the team of the tournament.

Memorable finals

The ‘Panenka final’: Czechoslovakia vs West Germany in 1976

Few players have a type of goal named after them, but Antonin Panenka managed that feat by scoring one of the most unique winners in football history.

His softly chipped penalty against West Germany in the 1976 final clinched the trophy for Czechoslovakia after a nervy penalty shoot-out. 

Even now, more than 40 years later, a chipped penalty is still known as a ‘Panenka’. 

Golden goal a dagger through Italian hearts: France v Italy in 2000

France clinched Euro 2000 in the most dramatic of fashions with a golden goal win over Italy.

The Italians led the game from the 55th minute and looked so comfortable that some players were seen celebrating on the bench when the 90th minute passed.

But in the third minute of injury time, Sylvain Wiltord scored a late equaliser, taking the game into extra-time.

The deflated Italians had barely picked themselves back up when David Trezeguet struck a dagger through their hearts with a winner ten minutes into the restart.

The game ended immediately due to the ‘Golden Goal’ being used by UEFA at the time.

Euro 2000 hero Zinedine Zidane in action for France.SNS Group

Underdogs bite back

Wales reaching the semi-final of Euro 2016

Led by Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, Wales backed up their supreme confidence by putting out pre-tournament favourites Belgium in the quarter-finals. 

They finally bowed in the last four at the hands of Portugal.

Gareth Bale led Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Denmark winning Euro 92 in Sweden despite failing to qualify

The Denmark squad were famously on their holidays when they were invited into Euro 92 after war-torn Yugoslavia were thrown out.

Which makes the fact that the unfancied Scandinavians, featuring future Rangers star Brian Laudrup, won the whole competition even more remarkable.

The Danes looked like they were there to make up the numbers after drawing with England and losing to Sweden.

But a 2-1 win over France in their final group game propelled them on a run to the final via a penalty-shootout victory over Netherlands in the semis.

A 2-0 win over Germany saw Denmark create the biggest shock the European Championships had ever seen…

Until 12 years later.

Denmark: Unlikely winners of Euro 92.SNS Group

Greece winning Euro 2004 in Portugal

Before their opening game victory against hosts Portugal, Greece had never before won a game at a major tournament.

But Otto Rehhagel’s men re-wrote the history books – no one can say they had the luck of the draw.

They drew with Spain to get out of the group, before beating France in the quarter-finals and Czech Republic in the semis.

Portugal were their victims again in the final as a third consecutive 1-0 victory took the famous trophy back to Athens.

STV and the STV Player will show 23 matches during Euro 2020 – including Scotland’s fixtures with England (June 18) and Croatia (June 22). Full details here.

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