Germany (1972, 1980, 1996)
Many believe the 1972 West Germany squad to be the best to ever grace the Euros.
At Euro 1972, Gerd Müller was the supreme finisher responsible for two goals in the 3-0 win in the final over a beleaguered Soviet Union.
Such was West Germany’s supremacy in this tournament that even the UEFA website refers to the other semi-finalists as a “supporting cast” in which the Germans were the main players of a footballing masterclass.
By Euro 1980, the emergence of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Bernd Schuster bolstered the squad following the retirements of key players. Horst Hrubesch scored the winner in a 2-1 win over Belgium during the final.
At Euro ‘96 in England, the ever-efficient Germans beat the hosts (once again) on penalties in their semi-final, before dispatching Czech Republic 2-1 in the final.
The 1996 final is notable for seeing the competition’s first ever Golden Goal. This was scored by substitute Oliver Bierhoff in the fourth minute of extra-time.
Spain (1964, 2008, 2012)
Spain made full use of their home advantage as they triumphed 2-1 against the Soviets to win the Euro 1964 final and lift the first major trophy in their history.
They opened the scoring with a goal from Jesús María Pereda, before Galimzyan Khusainov levelled the scores for the USSR.
Spain were able to capitalise on the USSR’s lack of a defensive midfielder, with a three-man combination move that saw Marcelino Martínez stoop to head the ball low inside the near post.
After taking Euro 2008 by storm with a style of play known as Tiki-taka, Spain became deserving champions with a single goal from Fernando Torres in the final.
Torres’ goal came after he darted past Philipp Lahm and shot beyond the reach of the advancing Jens Lehmann in the 33rd minute.
After a Euro 2012 campaign largely characterised as “boring” by both pundits and the public, Spain won the competition for the second time in a row with a 4-0 win over Italy.
The Azzurri were the team of the tournament up to this point, after an entertaining knockout campaign brought them to the final. Yet the Azzurri’s battles to reach the final had seemingly taken their toll.
The sight of third substitute, Thiago Motta, being carried off ended Italy’s ambitions as they were forced to carry on with 10 men.
Spain were able to capitalise on their opponents’ bad fortune with goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Torres and Juan Mata.
France (1984, 2000)
Euro 1984 in France was widely considered to be the best yet, and saw the home nation win their first major trophy. Michel Platini was the star of the tournament and gained the Golden Boot with nine goals in five games.
In the final, France beat Spain 2-0. Platini opened the scoring in the 57th minute with a squirming free-kick. Bruno Bellone scored the second late in the match, to put the trophy out of Spain’s reach.
In Euro 2000, France were the deserving winners of a tournament in which they faced Italy during the final.
Italy opened the scoring in the second half with a goal from Marco Delvecchio. It looked like it was all over for France as the match drew closer to the end until Sylvain Wiltord scrambled a last-ditch effort into Italy’s near-post.
David Trezeguet finished things off with a spectacular volley to give France a Golden Goal in the 13th minute of extra-time.
Soviet Union (1960)
The USSR won their only major trophy in the inaugural 1960 European Championship. The Soviets won the final 2-1 against Yugoslavia, despite being dominated for most of the match.
The usually high-scoring Slavs could only manage a single goal courtesy of Milan Galić. This was largely due to the outstanding performance of Soviet goalkeeper, Lev Yashin.
Slava Metreveli’s equaliser took the match into extra-time, before Viktor Ponedelnik took advantage of a tired Yugoslavia to claim the winner.
At Euro 1968 in Italy, the host nation won the tournament after a 2-0 win against Yugoslavia in a replay of the final. According to Italy goalkeeper, Dino Zoff, Yugoslavia were the better side during a 1-1 draw in the final.
Yet come the replay, Italy had strengthened their squad with Sandro Mazzola and Luigi Riva, to help them win the trophy.
The Netherlands (1988)
Euro 1988 was all about the mighty Netherlands. The Dutch trio of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard stole the show throughout the tournament.
Beating USSR 2-0 in the final, Gullit opened the scoring for the Netherlands, before van Basten crashed in the second with an acrobatic volley.
Denmark were the surprise winners of Euro ‘92. Having initially failed to qualify, they only progressed to the finals after Yugoslavia withdrew due to civil war.
After reaching the final, Denmark faced World Champions, Germany, who were widely expected to make quick work of the lesser team.
Yet after a John Jensen goal for Denmark in the eighteenth minute, the Germans failed to draw level despite many attempts. This was due in large part to the brilliance of Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel.
When the tournament began, bookmakers placed Greece at 250-1 to win the tournament.
Due largely to coach Otto Rehhagel’s tactical brilliance and iron discipline, Greece dispatched France in the quarter-finals and the Czech Republic in their semi-final. In the final, they beat hosts Portugal 1-0 after a goal from Angelos Charisteas.
It’s perhaps no surprise that Germany and Spain have won the Euros three times apiece. After all, these nations have represented the very pinnacle of European football over many decades.
Yet the one-off displays from Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004 show that when it comes to football, anything is possible.