What was the best moment from Euro 96?
As ITV prepare to re-air the entirety of Euro 96, here are our top moments from the tournament
Remembered fondly by English (and German) football fans, Euro 96 is the last international tournament to have taken place on home soil and boasted a host of iconic players, memorable moments and thrilling matches.
From a bleach-blonde Paul Gascoigne showcasing his outstanding skills, England’s demolition of the Dutch, to new stars announcing their arrival on the world stage – here are some of our top moments from the tournament.
After a star-making turn in Euro 96 that saw his unheralded Czech Republic side make it all the way to the final, Karel Poborsky earned a big move to Manchester United and looked set for a career at the top of the game. That didn’t quite work out, but Poborsky’s improvised lob in a quarter-final tie against Portugal was arguably the best of the tournament, as he scooped the ball over an on-rushing Vitor Baia, sending his side into the semi-finals.
Croatia’s Davor Suker too scored a deft chipped goal, over an out-of-position Peter Schmeichel – felled like a great oak as the perfectly judged strike evaded the great Dane’s outstretched arms.
Gazza’s sublime strike fells Scotland
The most iconic goal of the tournament was matched by an iconic celebration, as Gazza’s edge of the box chip over defender Colin Hendry left the long-haired Scot sprawled on the floor before the mercurial midfielder volleyed home with perfect technique.
After pre-tournament tabloid headlines had been devoted to the England team’s boozy behavior, the Gazza inevitably made light of the ‘dentist’s chair’ descriptions that had filled column inches, as teammates sprayed water into the prone midfielders face as he lay on his back, mouth agape, loving every second of it.
England beat Holland 4-0
After drawing with Switzerland and beating Scotland, England needed to beat Holland to qualify from Group A. Holland were a side teeming with talent, including Edwin van der Sar, Ronald de Boer, Clarence Seedorf, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert among their ranks.
Thankfully, England turned in a performance of the highest quality, as the deadly duo of Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham tore the Dutch defence apart, finding themselves 4-0 up by the 62nd minute. A consolation goal from substitute from Kluivert made the final score 4-1, but this performance was the moment when England fans began to wonder if football really was coming home.
Germany’s Golden Goal
Probably not the top of any non-German’s list, obviously one of the defining moments of the tournament was the goal that won it, with the new Golden Goal rule proving decisive after a tense 1-1 draw between Germany and the Czech Republic in the Final.
Most neutral fans favoured the plucky Czech underdogs, with Poborsky’s skills, Patrick Berger’s burgeoning reputation and eye-catching performances from an up-and-coming Pavel Nedved. Yet Germany had already beaten the Czech Republic in the Group Stage, with a 2-0 victory suggesting their superiority before the final even began.
Patrick Berger’s 59th minute penalty briefly had the Czech Republic on course for an unlikely win, before part-time opera singer Oliver Bierhoff equalized in the 73rd minute, sending the game to extra time. It took just five more minutes for the Golden Goal to come, with substitute Bierhoff striking again, in one of the greatest ‘super sub’ performances ever seen in international football.
English pride, Pearce’s passion and Three Lions
Perhaps less of a moment and more of a national mood, Euro 96 showcased the power of football to unite a nation as the country truly got behind their team.
From the anthemic ‘Three Lions’ song from Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and the Lightning Seeds, to the feeling of ‘Cool Britannia’ optimism sweeping the nation, Euro 96 holds a cultural resonance that perhaps outreaches the team’s achievements in the tournament.
Some of us may remember a dejected Gareth Southgate, after his tame penalty was saved by German goalkeeper Andreas Köpke in the semi-final. But far more of us choose to remember the image of Stuart Pearce, his raw passion on display as he laid his demons to rest with a converted penalty against Spain in the quarter-final shoot-out, screaming at the crowd and showing the kind of grit and determination that made a nation feel proud.
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