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Five craziest European Championship moments

Robbie Purves | June 7, 2016

As Europe’s finest footballing nations flock to France for Euro 2016 this summer, they take with them potential heroes and villains that will emerge from the competition.

Throughout the decades there have been some many memorable moments, so Coral takes a look at some of the craziest moments of the European Champions…

Rooney injury – 2004

After scoring four goals in the opening three games of Euro 2004, 18-year-old Wayne Rooney hobbled off in the quarter-final against Portugal with a broken metatarsal. England looked set to reach the latter stages of the tournament until that point, but the injury made a huge impact on the field and damaged morale off it.

However, the squad was supposedly the Three Lions’ ‘Golden Generation’ and the loss of a teenager shouldn’t have led to an early flight home. Another international tournament, another disappointment.

England lost their opening game to France, but blasted their way past Switzerland and Croatia with Rooney lighting up the tournament. The then Everton striker, limped off during the quarter-final defeat to Portugal and was replaced by Darius Vassell.

England are 9/1 to go on and win Euro 2016.

Rooney moved to Manchester United later that summer and scored a hat-trick against Fenerbahce on his debut.

Spain show grit against Yugoslavia – 2000

Before Spain finally got their 44-year trophy-less monkey off their back at Euro 2008, La Roja was the consistent underachiever of international football.

In 2000, Spain had to collect three points from their final group game against Yugoslavia, if recent history was anything to go by, Spain would choke. However, the narrative was broken when Jose Antonio Camacho’s outfit beat their opponents 4-3.

Spain fell behind to a tough, wily Yugoslavian team, who played much of the second half with 10 men after current Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic saw red. However, even as Spain tied it at 3-3 thanks to Gaizka Mendieta’s penalty, they were heading out of the competition thanks to Norway’s goalless draw with Slovenia.

The Spanish bench waved the players forward in search of a winner and Alfredo Perez wrote himself into La Roja folklore with a historic goal that sent Spain’s travelling contingent crazy in Bruges. Vicente del Bosque’s men are 9/2 to win Euro 2016.

Trezeguet golden goal – 2000

Italy’s Marco Delvecchio gave his nation the lead in the 55th minute and they held on until the final minute of injury time. Step up Sylvain Wiltord, the winger crashed a low daisy cutting shot past Italian keeper Francesco Toldo to take the game into extra time.

However, the drama wasn’t over yet. France won the game just before half-time in extra-time when Robert Pires cut the ball back for David Trezeguet to rifle in the golden goal and win Euro 2000 for France.

The French are favourites to 3/1 win the Euros on home-soil.

Dentist chair – 1996

Like every tournament, England went into Euro ’96 with the belief and confidence they could win it and ‘bring football home’. However, they were booted out by Germany on, you guessed it, penalties in the semis.

Paul Gascoigne had been under the media’s scrutiny for his part in the ‘Dentist Chair’ antics during a pre-tournament trip in Hong Kong – but his superb strike against Scotland in the group stage silenced some of those critics.

Alan Shearer put England in front, but Scotland had the chance to equalise through a penalty taken by Gary McAllister. He missed, and less than a minute later Gascoingne flicked the ball over helpless Colin Hendry, then smashed home a volley passed Andy Gorum.

The following celebration goes down as one of the craziest moments in European Championship history.

Panenka pen – 1976

Antonin Panenka’s iconic penalty for Czechoslovakia to beat West Germany in a shootout in the final of Euro 1976, is a legendary Euros moment.

The audacious chip, has been much emulated since, and has become known over the years as the ‘Panenka penalty’.

Panenka came to international prominence playing for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship. Czechoslovakia reached the final, where they faced West Germany. After extra time, the result was 2–2, and so the first penalty shootout in a European Championships final ensued. The first seven pens found the back of the net, until West Germany’s fourth penalty taker, Uli Hoeness, ballooned his shot over the bar.

With the score 4–3, Panenka stepped up and scored, the sheer cheek of the goal led a watching French journalist to dub Panenka ‘a poet’.

Flip of a coin – 1968

The coin toss has been used on plenty of occasions to decide something more than just the kick-off, for instance who uses the home dressing room on neutral ground, but by far the most important and high-profile occurrence was the semi-final of the 1968 European Championship.

Soccer - 1968 European Championship - Final - Replay - Italy v Yugoslavia

Italy and the USSR could not be split despite 120 minutes of play, the game ending 0-0 after extra time. So, with the penalty shootout not introduced until two years later, it fell to a trusty coin toss. After much deliberation on which currency the coin would be, buts lets face it, it wouldn’t really matter, a Dutch guilder was flipped into the air and fell on tails, sending Italy through to the final – which they won.

Italy are 18/1 to win Euro 2016.

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