Was Euro 96 the best ever Euros?
If you were born in Britain in the 1980s, Euro 1996 has long taken the prize for being the best and most entertaining European Championship in living memory.
The competition, of course, was hosted in England: it was the first time the Home Nation had staged a major competition since the World Cup in 1966.
The Three Lions rose to the occasion on home soil. Terry Venables’ side put on some stirring displays to advance all the way to the semi-finals, which still remains England’s highest Euro finish to this day.
But it was not just England football team who made the tournament a memorable one, though.
There were countless quality goals and big moments throughout that summer and now, 101 have picked out the 8 best moments below.
1) Paul Gascoigne’s ‘dentist chair’ celebration following stunner vs Scotland
The first memorable moment from Euro 96 comes from England’s clash with Scotland.
England won the clash 2-0 thanks to strikes from Alan Shearer and a simply stunning effort from Paul Gascoigne:
England will play Scotland at #EURO2020 👊
Perfect time to relive this iconic Gascoigne goal 😍pic.twitter.com/kpKteWSz1j
— Goal (@goal) November 13, 2020
The pair, of course, have a fairly bitter rivalry, which made Gascoigne’s stunning goal that bit more special.
Paul Gascoigne’s goal, though, was remembered for more than being one of the best in European Championship history, with the celebration after the fact also grabbing the headlines.
Around a month before Euro 1996, England players, including Gascoigne, found themselves at the mercy of the British press after being spotted drunk in a Hong Kong nightclub.
Amongst the headlines in the media was ‘DISGRACEFOOL’ from the Sun, whose front cover showed Gascoigne, Teddy Sheringham and Steve McManaman covered in boose.
The reason for this was that at the nightclub they were spotted in, bartenders would pour spirits into the mouths of those attending, which was described as the ‘dentist chair’.
In response to the media barrage, Gascoigne opted for a ‘dentist chair’ celebration of his own vs Scotland, which saw Alan Shearer squirting water into his mouth:
Retweet if you remember Paul Gascoigne’s legendary dentist chair celebration! pic.twitter.com/4GijUHH6q1
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) August 28, 2015
2) England hammer the Netherlands 4-1
Sticking with England, following their win over Scotland, the Three Lions’ final group outing at Euro 96 pitted them against a quality Netherlands side.
England headed into the match level on points with the Dutch side, knowing that a draw would be enough to see them top Group A.
England, though, went one step further and picked apart a quality Netherlands side that included the likes of Denis Bergkamp, Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert.
Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham netted a brace each to see England come away with a staggering 4-1 win.
It would be Shearer’s second of the day, though, which was the pick of the bunch, with the Newcastle legend finishing off a superb team goal from England.
🏴 Alan Shearer 🤩
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 18, 2020
3) Davor Suker’s chip vs Denmark
It would not just be England who scored some quality goals at Euro 96 however.
Croatia and Denmark would play out a highly entertaining affair in a Group D clash that summer.
With Denmark having dropped points in their opening tie and Croatia playing group favourites, Portugal, in their final outing, both sides knew that a win would likely see them secure second spot in Group D.
In the end, it would be Croatia who blew the Danes away with a resounding 3-0 victory that provided a fair bit of entertainment for neutrals.
The highlight of the day, however, came in the 90th minute when Davor Suker chipped legendary keeper, Peter Schmeichel.
Suker would later play for two English clubs: first Arsenal and then West Ham.
On this day in 1996, Davor Suker did this… 😍pic.twitter.com/pMJqp3U4BG
— Goal (@goal) June 16, 2019
4) Karel Poborsky’s lob vs P0rtugal
As well as England, the Czech Republic put on one of their best-ever showings at a tournament in Euro 96.
The Czech Republic, which had previously been known as Czechoslovakia, failed to qualify for the competition in 1984, 1988 and 1992.
They returned with a bang, however, in 1996. After managing to pip Italy to 2nd spot in Group C, the Czech Republic faced Portugal in the quarter-finals.
And, despite being underdogs, the Czechs then went on to beat a Portugal side that had the likes of Luis Figo and Rui Costa in it, by one goal to nil thanks to a sublime lob from Karel Poborsky.
Poborsky, of course, joined Manchester United following his performances at Euro 96.
Following their win over Portugal, the Czech Republic went on to see off France in the semis before eventually losing the final to Germany.
#OnThisDay in 1⃣9⃣9⃣6⃣
— UEFA.com DE (@UEFAcom_de) June 23, 2020
5) Oliver Bierhoff’s Golden Goal vs Czech Republic
The final memorable moment of Euro 96 of course took place in the final.
As already highlighted, the Czech Republic and Germany made it to the final at Wembley.
And despite Germany being tournament favourites, the Czech Republic actually took the lead on the day after 59 minutes.
However, the introduction over Olivier Bierhoff for Germany 10 minutes later went on to change the game.
The striker drew the game level less than five minutes after coming on. Then, five minutes into extra time, Bierhoff would net a Golden Goal winner for Germany.
Bierhoff’s winner was the first time the Euros had been decided by a Golden Goal, with the only other final decided by Golden Goal coming four years later before the rule was then scrapped in 2004.
🗣️ “It was pure happiness”
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) May 1, 2019
6) Hristo Stoichkov scored in every Bulgaria game
Bulgaria didn’t have the best Euro 96, as the eastern Europeans exited the tournament in the first round.
However, Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov left his mark on the competition, as he scored in each of Bulgaria’s three group games.
Stoichkov scored a penalty against Spain, a solo stunner versus Romania and a majestic free-kick against France.
As a result, Stoichkov was named in the Team of the Tournament.
Hristo Stoichkov at Euro ’96 🇧🇬 pic.twitter.com/54OaghLHY5
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) November 28, 2020
7) The BBC’s unforgettable Beethoven intro
When some heard the BBC’s intro music for Euro 96, as reported by the Independent, they weren’t best please.
It was reported that the BBC was “facing criticism for choosing a German, well Beethoven, and his ‘Ode To Joy’ from the Ninth Symphony” as their segway into the action that summer.
However, all those stiff-necks were obviously wrong, as the BBC’s opening music and graphics are still perfectly nostalgic today.
Sadly for ITV, as still seems to be the case to today, their Euro 96 intro felt massively second placed.
ITV also opted for the classical music option, picking ‘Jerusalem’ for their credits. However, the version which ITV selected was just far too slow and boring.
8) Trifon Ivanov’s remarkable hairdo
And we’re not finished with Bulgaria quite yet!
While Stoichkov was the hero in attack, Bulgaria’s defence was marshalled by the unforgettable Trifon Ivanov in the heart of their defence.
Ivanov stood out for two major reasons.
Firstly, Ivanov would often try to score impossible goal with 40-yard free-kicks that never hit the target,
Secondly, Ivanov sported one of the all-time great hairstyles ever witnessed at a European Championship.
Unfortunately, Ivanov passed away back in 2016, aged just 50, from a heart attack.
There were many dead ball specialists at Euro 96, tough tackling defender Trifon Ivanov was not one of them! With star man Hristo Stoichkov on his team, you do wonder how he got to take so many of these! #euro96relived pic.twitter.com/atxUc4D8lP
— Retro Football Analysis (@analysisretro) June 11, 2020
9) Three Lions (Baddiel, Skinner & Lightning Seeds)
Away from the pitch, Euro 96 ruled the radio airwaves too.
While most will still argue that New Order’s ‘World in Motion’ remains the greatest ever football soundtrack, ‘Three Lions’ from David Baddiel, France Skinner & Lightning Seeds is almost second the second-best football track ever.
Summary: 9 reasons why Euro 96 was the best, most memorable Euros ever
- Paul Gascoigne’s ‘dentist chair’
- England hammer the Netherlands 4-1
- Davor Suker’s chip vs Denmark
- Karel Poborsky’s lob vs P0rtugal
- Oliver Bierhoff’s Golden Goal vs Czechs
- Hristo Stoichkov scored in every Bulgaria game
- BBC’s unforgettable Beethoven intro
- Trifon Ivanov’s remarkable hairdo
- Three Lions (Baddiel, Skinner & Lightning Seeds)