Only time will tell if an expanded European Championship is a good idea or not but at least the extra games over the next month will provide more opportunity for great goals to be scored. Here, we rank 10 of the best goals in the history of the European Championship.
10 best European Championship goals ever
Antonin Panenka (Euro 1976)
We start all the way back in 1976 with a genuine piece of football innovation and beauty. West Germany equalised late in the Euro 1976 final, which went to penalties as a result. The first seven kicks all went in, then Uli Hoeness blazed his effort miles over the crossbar.
One kick to win the trophy. Up steps Panenka, who delicately chipped his penalty straight down the middle of the goal, with goalkeeper Sepp Maier made to look rather silly after diving left. Germany had never lost a shootout at a major tournament before and they have not since. It took something very special to do it, writing Panenka’s name into football folklore.
Andrea Pirlo’s homage to what is now known as the Panenka at Euro 2012, knocking out England and humiliating Joe Hart in the process, was also superb and deserves a mention in our list of the best goals in the history of the European Championship..
Ronnie Whelan (Euro 1988)
Ireland had never been to the Euros before and Whelan gave them something to remember the 1988 tournament by, even if cynics might point out this superb strike probably came off his shin.
A long throw to set up a flying volley? Route one made into art.
Marco van Basten (Euro 1988)
Widely regarded as one of the best goals ever scored, let alone in European Championship history, Van Basten’s sensational volley in the 1988 final absolutely has to make the cut.
Netherlands won the ball in midfield but the left-wing cross from Arnold Muhren looked too deep. Van Basten thought otherwise, though, unleashing a ridiculous strike across the goalkeeper that seemed to defy logic, sense and even physics.
John Jensen (Euro 1992)
Denmark only qualified for the finals after Yugoslavia’s disqualification and despite being heavy underdogs against a newly Germany, who were world champions at the time, won the final.
Jensen’s powerful low effort opened the scoring and set up one of football’s greatest shocks.
Paul Gascoigne (Euro 1996)
England face Scotland at Wembley this summer, bringing back memories of Gazza at Euro 96.
David Seaman had just saved Gary McAllister’s penalty and the goalkeeper’s long boot upfield was quickly worked into Gascoigne, 25 yards out.
His first touch was sublime, lifting the ball over a baffled Colin Hendry, the second was ruthless, the celebration – the dentist’s chair – completely iconic. The best England goal ever? Probably. Certainly one of the best goals in the history of the European Championship.
Karol Poborsky (Euro 1996)
At the same tournament, Poborsky produced this moment of magic.
He needed a bit of luck in the build-up as a ricochet off a helpless defender created some room, but few would have had the imagination, let alone the skill, to produce a perfect 20-yard chip.
Luis Figo (Euro 2000)
Sometimes the best goals are when an incredibly talented footballer just decides to hit the ball as hard as he physically can to see what happens and this was the case in the European Championship in 2000.
That’s exactly what Figo did here, picking the ball up on the halfway line, striding forward totally unchallenged and walloping home a thunderous effort from at least 30 years out.
Maybe it took a deflection or maybe it just flew between Tony Adams’ legs. Does it matter? Nah.
Michael Ballack, Euro 2008
There are a few free kick contenders but again: great player hitting a ball very hard. Can’t beat it. A worthy addition to our list of the best goals in European Championship history.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Euro 2012
Zlatan inevitably ends up featuring in most great goals compilations and this one is no different.
Maybe leaving one of the all-time greats completely unmarked in the box was not the wisest move from France, but not many players would have finished quite as spectacularly as Ibra.
It is a huge shame injury has stopped Ibrahimovic from coming out of retirement at Euro 2020.
Hal Robson-Kanu, Euro 2016
Wales were the surprise stars of the last Euros, with Robson-Kanu providing one of the tournament’s most memorable moments with this wonderful piece of improvisation.
The Cruyff turn took three defenders out of the game in a moment of brilliance, leaving Robson-Kanu in the clear to smash the ball home. More of this at Euro 2020, please.
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