UEFA European Championship is the second largest football event after the mighty FIFA World Cup. The best teams from Europe meet at one of the grandest stage every four years to fight it out and get the crown of Europe’s best football nation. However, it is believed that this tournament was not the first for national association. Henri Delaunay, the first UEFA General Secretary and former French national association general secretary, presented a proposal to FIFA in 1927 together with an Austrian official Hugo Meisl.
The idea of his proposal to FIFA was for a football tournament open for all European associations, which will be simultaneously running with the mighty FIFA World Cup. The official final tournament would take place every four years and the qualifying rounds will be played every two years.
The first ever edition of the European championship was a very small tournament which took place in 1960, in which only four teams participated including Czechoslovakia, France, Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. As this was a French drive for such a tournament, the Euro Cup 1960 was held in France, which the Soviet Union won. The most astonishing thing about the first edition is that all the countries except France do not exist anymore.
Initially, the format of the entire tournament was a bit different to what the football fans see now. The first round along with the quarter finals was previously played between teams in order to qualify for the main tournament. The quota was for four teams to qualify for the final tournament where the competition kicked off with the semi final round. Group stages were introduced in the Euro Cup of 1968, however, as a part of qualification process with quarter finals.
The number of teams was doubled for the UEFA Euro in 1980 to eight, which is when the group stage was first used in an official tournament. Quarter finals were not part of qualification process anymore. The Euro 1980 set the basic format of the entire tournament and it did not change much, only the amount of teams per group that qualified increased.
Ever since its inception back in 1960, Germany and Spain are the most successful European teams by successfully claiming the title of Euro cup winners 3 times followed by France, who won it two times. The current champion of the UEFA European Championship is Spain, which at the moment is the only team to retain its title in two consecutive tournaments. However, the top scorer of this tournament is one of the greatest footballers of all time, Michel Platini, with nine goals. Alan Shearer of England and Thierry Henry of France are also in the top 3 goal scorer list with 7 and 6 goals respectively.
The latest edition of the UEFA Euro Championship took place between June 10 and July 10, 2016 in France. The Euro Cup 2016 was the first UEFA European Championship where 24 European associations competed against each other. The 24 qualifying teams drawn into groups of four from where winners, runner ups and four best third-placed teams of the groups decided. The tournament then proceeded into a knockout phase where the qualifying 16 teams played round of 16, quarter finals, semi finals, and then the finals. The host France played against Portugal in the final which was decided after extra time, Eder, who was a substitue, came on to score the mighty winning goal in the 109 minute to give Portugal their first Euro cup.