By News Team
19th May 2020
Euro 96 will always hold a special place in many a football fan’s heart; when the sun always shone, when spirits were high and when ‘Three Lions’ was always blaring.
The superior Germany came out on top once again, hosts England gave as good as they’d got, and a bunch of exciting European talent lit up Premier League grounds around the country – but what were the greatest moments from the competition? Read on to find out.
Seaman’s save, Gazza’s wondergoal
Games between England and Scotland are always a memorable affair – but games between England and Scotland at a major championship are on another level completely. England had endured a slow start to their campaign with an opening-day 1-1 draw with Switzerland, but it would be a two-minute spell against Scotland in their next match that would really get their tournament up and running.
Leading 1-0 at Wembley thanks to an Alan Shearer opener, England conceded a penalty to Scotland as the game was reaching its latter stages. Up to the spot stepped Gary McAllister, only for David Seaman to pull off a huge save with his left elbow. Just moments later, Seaman was launching the free-kick upfield that led to Paul Gascoigne’s moment of brilliance: one touch over the head of the helpless Colin Hendry followed by an exquisite volley as the ball fell from the air, with his strike arrowing into the bottom corner.
Cue wild scenes around Wembley, including that dentist chair celebration from Gazza…
Suker and Poborsky’s magic lobs
Besides Gazza’s moment of genius, two other goals from Euro 96 stand out for their sheer class and inventiveness, with Davor Suker and Karel Poborsky both producing lobs that still live long in the memory.
With Denmark 2-0 down in a group game against Croatia at Hillsborough they sent goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel up for a corner late on, though a chance failed to materialise and the counter-attack was on. Suker, who had already netted for Croatia from the spot in the first half, received possession on the edge of the Denmark box before advancing forward and pulling off the most sublime of chips to send the ball sailing over Schmeichel’s head and into the back of the net.
A few days later it was Poborsky’s turn. In a tense quarter-final at Villa Park against Portugal, the Czech Republic midfielder picked up the ball in the opposition half before bundling his way past three players, forcing his way towards the box and sending the cheekiest of lobs over the head of Vitor Baia. The goal helped earn Poborsky a big move to Manchester United that summer and it was later voted in a UEFA poll as the best individual goal at a European Championship.
England 4-1 Netherlands
If England’s game against Scotland was the game that kickstarted their Euro 96 campaign, it was the final group game against Netherlands that really got the nation believing the Three Lions could be in for the perfect summer.
Boasting the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Clarence Seedorf and Ronald de Boer, Netherlands were one of the continent’s most exciting teams, but England tore them apart on a sultry June evening at Wembley. Picking up where he left off in the previous two games, Shearer notched his third goal of the tournament from the penalty spot early on, before an 11-minute spell followed in the second half that ranks among England’s best ever.
Teddy Sheringham made it two with a header from a corner, before Shearer soon rifled home a third into the top corner after some great work from Gascoigne and Sheringham. Moments later it was four, as Sheringham slotted home a rebound following a Darren Anderton strike.
England fans could barely believe what they were seeing, with Patrick Kluivert’s late consolation doing little to dampen the jubilant mood around Wembley.
Bierhoff’s golden goal
Given some of the drama that had gone before it at Euro 96, it was perhaps fitting that the final was to be decided by a ‘golden goal’ – a short-lived format recently introduced by FIFA that would see knockout clashes that ended as draws settled by the first goal that was scored during the extra-time period.
After edging past England in the semi-finals in one of the competition’s most dramatic clashes, Germany booked their place to face the tournament’s surprise package, Czech Republic, in the final. Amazingly, Czech Republic took the lead in the second half through a Patrik Berger penalty, however, Germany soon struck back thanks to a header from substitute Oliver Bierhoff.
Bierhoff would go on to make himself a national hero in Germany, with the striker then netting the extra-time golden goal winner – a deflected shot that somehow crept past Petr Kouba to seal the victory. Bierhoff had written his name in the history books and Germany had won Euro 96.