First played in 1960 under the name of UEFA European Nations Cup, the idea of this popular European football league was first suggested by Henri Delaunay in 1927 who was a member of French Football Federation. Finally in 1960, his dream turned into reality and the tournament was held in France. In his honor, the tournament trophy was named as Henri Deluanay Trophy. 17 teams participated out of which three teams did not played- West Germany, England and Italy. Among the 14 remaining teams, USSR made its way into the final and won the first tournament trophy by outsmarting Yugoslavia by 2-1.
After that, the name of this tournament was changed to European Football Championship in 1968 and then since 1992, this tournament became popular as Euro. Held once in every four years; statistical reports show that this is the third most popular sports tournament in the world after Olympic Games and World Cup. So far, 13 tournaments had been played and this Euro 2012 is the 14th session. Germany is the most successful team in this tournament who had been in the final six times and won championship title three times.
In 1964, Spain was the host of the tournament with 29 teams participating in the tournament. The host succeeded in bagging the championship title by defeating the last time champion USSR by 2-1.
In 1968, the tournament name was reframed but the format remained same with two new teams. Held in Italy, the championship title also went to the host country when they defeated Yugoslavia in a replay match by 2-0. The most notable incident in that year was a coin toss to decide a semi-final match. This coin toss was the first and the only time incident in Euro history.
Belgium was the host in 1972 when West Germany (now Germany) won the final beating Soviet Union by 3-0.
1976 tournament was held in Yugoslavia and that was the final year to put an end for two things- host team had to be in the final and four teams qualifying in the final. That year is also notable for the newly introduced penalty shootout. Czechoslovakia won the final.
The next tournament in 1980 was organized in a new format in Italy. The concept of group came up and eight teams participated with winners of each group getting into the play-offs and then to the final. West Germany won once again and this was their second championship title.
In 1984, the concept of semi-final also emerged which gave totally a new format to this tournament. France won the tournament by smashing Spain in 2-0. Michel Platini was then the Captain of France who was an impressive player of the tournament. He scored 9 goals in 5 matches.
The two times champion, West Germany hosted the 1988 tournament where Netherlands defeated the host to win the championship title. This year is still considered as a glorious year in football history because Marco van Basten made a spectacular goal over the goalkeeper straight from the right wing.
Then in Sweden in 1992 when European Football Championship became Euro 1992 for the first time! Denmark won the league by defeating unified Germany by 2-0. Yugoslavia was not allowed to participate in the tournament that year as they were in a state of war.
16 teams participated in UEFA Euro 1996which was organized in England. Germany ousted newly-formed state Czech Republic by 2-1 and bagged another championship trophy for the third time. But for unified Germany, this was the first time.
Belgium and Netherlands were the host for Euro 2000 when France was the emperor of football. As expected by the entire world, France once more succeeded in retaining their position as champion when they defeated Italy by 2-1.
The championship trophy of UEFA Euro 2004, held in Portugal, was won by Greece who defeated the host team by 1-0 in the final.
Switzerland and Austria, again two countries hosted UEFA Euro 2008 where Spain defeated Germany by 1-0 in the final to become the champion.
Finally 2012! This year Ukraine and Poland will host the tournament where 16 teams are participating from four groups, each group having four teams. Czech Republic, Greece, Poland and Russia are from Group A, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Holland are from Group B, Croatia, Spain, Italy and Ireland are from Group C and England, France, Sweden and Ukraine are from Group D. This exciting tournament will start on June 8, 2012 and will continue till July 1, 2012.
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