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The 1996 UEFA European Football Championship (Euro 96) was hosted by Englandmarker. It was the tenth European Football Championship, which is held every four years and endorsed by UEFA, and the first to use the "Euro" name. The tournament's final stages took place between 8 June and 30 June 1996. The slogan of the tournament was "Football Comes Home", as it was the first time the tournament had taken place in England, where the rules of the game were first standardised. English football and popular culture has since referenced the competition fondly even though the home team did not reach the final.

Since the Taylor Report, Englandmarker now boasted enough all-seater stadia of sufficient capacity to hold an expanded tournament. Although not all the games were sold out, the tournament had the highest aggregate attendance in championship history (1,276,000) and the highest average per game of 41,158 for the revised 16 team format with 31 games. Only Germany had had a higher average attendance in championship history with an average of 56,656 in 1988 but only staged 15 games in an 8 team championship.


UEFA Euro 1996 finalists.

Fifteen teams had to go through a qualifying round to reach the final stage. England qualified automatically as hosts of the event. This was the first European Championship to introduce the current format of 16 countries competing in the final tournament. UEFA had made the decision to expand the tournament as in the late 1980s and early 1990s it was far easier for European nations to qualify for the World Cup than their own continental championship; 14 of the 24 teams at the 1982, 1986 and 1990 World Cups had been European, whereas the European Championship finals still involved only eight teams.

The qualifying round was played throughout 1994 and 1995. There were eight qualifying groups of six teams each, with the exception of group 3, which only had five. The matches were played in a home-and-away basis.

The winner and the runner-up of each group qualified automatically, with the exception of the two worst runners-up. These two teams had to play an additional playoff between them (single match in neutral ground), to determine the 16th team to join all others in the final tournament. This was between Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands at Anfieldmarker Stadium, Liverpoolmarker which the Dutch won 2-0.

The following teams participated in the final tournament:

  • (first appearance)
  • (first appearance)
  • (first appearance)*
  • [holders]
  • (hosts)

  • (first appearance)**
  • (first appearance)
  • (first appearance)

* Since the break-up of Czechoslovakiamarker.** Since the break-up of the USSRmarker.


Londonmarker Manchestermarker Liverpoolmarker Birminghammarker
Wembley Stadiummarker

Capacity: 76,567
Old Traffordmarker

Capacity: 55,000

Capacity: 42,730
Villa Parkmarker

Capacity: 39,399
Leedsmarker Sheffieldmarker Newcastlemarker Nottinghammarker
Elland Roadmarker

Capacity: 40,204
Hillsborough Stadiummarker

Capacity: 39,814
St James' Parkmarker

Capacity: 36,610
City Groundmarker

Capacity: 30,576

Match officials

Czech Republic





For a list of all squads that played in the final tournament, see 1996 UEFA European Football Championship squads.


First round

The hosts, England, got off to a slightly disappointing start in their opening match, drawing 1-1 with the Swiss when Alan Shearer’s 23rd minute goal was equalled by a late penalty kick. However, England defeated rival Scotland 2-0 in their next game and then produced one of their finest performances ever with a 4-1 win over the Netherlands. Patrick Kluivert’s late goal for the Netherlands secured his team second-place in the group and ensured that Scotland would exit another major competition on goal difference.

Groups C and D saw some surprising results as the Czech Republic and Croatia, whose national teams had only come into existence within the past several years, qualified for the knockout stages. The Czechs lost to Germany, the eventual group winners, in their opener but then defeated Italy and drew with Russia. Italy’s defeat meant they had to beat Germany in their final game to progress but the World Cup finalists could only manage a 0-0 draw and were eliminated. In Group D, Croatia qualified for the quarter-finals with wins over Turkey (1-0) and Denmark (3-0). The loss to the Croats ultimately sent the Danes, the surprise champions of 1992, home earlier than expected.

The other three quarter-finalist were Portugal (whose Golden Generation was competing at its first major tournament), Spain, and a France team featuring a young Zinedine Zidane.

Quarter-finals and the Semi-finals

The knockout stages were characterised by negative, defensive play and as result only 9 goals were scored in the seven games and four of the matches were decided on penalties. The first quarter-final between the hosts and Spain ended goalless, although England had several major calls go their way as the Spanish had two goals disallowed and two valid claims for a penalty denied . The English progressed 4-2 on spot kicks. The shootout is still remembered for the emphatic reaction of Stuart Pearce after he scored England’s third penalty, erasing the memory of his miss in the 1990 World Cup semi-final. France and the Netherlands also played out a drab 0-0 draw with France winning the penalty shootout 5-4. Jürgen Klinsmann opened the scoring for Germany in their match against Croatia. A great goal from Davor Šuker evened the score after 51 minutes before Matthias Sammer of Germany scored eight minutes later and the game ended 2-1 to Germany. The Czech Republic progressed after beating Portugal 1-0.

The first semi-final, featuring France and the Czech Republic, resulted in yet another 0-0 draw and penalties were required again. Reynald Pedros was the lone player to miss in the shootout as the Czech Republic won 6-5. The other semi-final was a repeat of the 1990 World Cup semi-final between Germany and England. Alan Shearer headed in after 3 minutes to give his side the lead but Stefan Kuntz evened the score less than 15 minutes later and the score remained 1-1 after 90 minutes. In extra-time, Paul Gascoigne came very close to scoring a Golden Goal but missed a cross from Shearer by mere inches, Darren Anderton hit the crossbar and Kuntz had a goal disallowed for pushing. Neither team was able to find a second goal and another knockout game in this competition required penalties. Both sides scored their first five kicks but in the sixth round, Gareth Southgate had his penalty saved, allowing Andreas Möller to score the winning goal.


The final saw the upstart Czech Republic hoping to repeat the dramatics of Euro 76 when Czechoslovakia defeated West Germany; the Germans were aiming to secure their third European Championship. A repeat of 1976 looked possible when Patrick Berger scored from a penalty in 59th minute to put the Czech ahead. However, German substitute Oliver Bierhoff scored to make it 1-1, sending the game to extra-time. Five minutes into the extra frame, Bierhoff’s shot was mishandled by Czech goalkeeper Kouba and the ball ended up in the back of the net for the first Golden Goal in the history of the competition. Germany were European champions once again.


First round

Note: All times local (BST/UTC+1).

Group A

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 2 1 0 7 2 +5 7
3 1 1 1 3 4 -1 4
3 1 1 1 1 2 -1 4
3 0 1 2 1 4 -3 1

Group B

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 2 1 0 5 2 +3 7
3 1 2 0 4 3 +1 5
3 1 1 1 3 4 -1 4
3 0 0 3 1 4 -3 0

Group C

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 2 1 0 5 0 +5 7
3 1 1 1 5 6 -1 4
3 1 1 1 3 3 0 4
3 0 1 2 4 8 -4 1

Group D

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3 2 1 0 5 1 +4 7
3 2 0 1 4 3 +1 6
3 1 1 1 4 4 0 4
3 0 0 3 0 5 -5 0

Knockout stages






5 goals

3 goals

2 goals

UEFA Team of the Tournament

Goalkeepers Defenders Midfielders Forwards
 David Seaman
Andreas Köpke
 Radoslav Látal
Laurent Blanc
Marcel Desailly
Matthias Sammer
Paolo Maldini
 Didier Deschamps
Steve McManaman
Paul Gascoigne
Rui Costa
Karel Poborský
Dieter Eilts
 Alan Shearer
Hristo Stoichkov
Davor Šuker
Youri Djorkaeff
Pavel Kuka

UEFA Tournament Golden Boot Award

UEFA Player of the Tournament

Fastest goal

3 minutes : Alan Shearer (England vs Germany); Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria vs Romania)

Average goals

2.06 goals per game

Cultural Significance

The tournament took place towards the end of a cultural and artistic movement in the United Kingdom known as Cool Britannia and the musical movement known as Britpop, both of which were highly patriotic and focused almost entirely on British and English references and influences. One commentator said that Britpop ended when Gareth Southgate missed his penalty in the semi-final of Euro '96.


  1. Euro '96, ESPNSoccernet, 1 May 2008 Retrieved on 15 October 2008

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