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© Panini Group and UEFA
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© Panini Group and UEFA
Max Bentley provides you with a history and interesting facts and figures regarding Europe's biggest international football tournament:
IN THE BEGINNING
- The idea for a European knockout tournament was first conceived by the French Football Federation’s Henri Delaunay in 1927.
- The first edition began in 1958 when 17 countries entered a qualifying campaign. Only four teams contested the finals two years later, which were won by the Soviet Union when they defeated Yugoslavia 2-1 in Paris.
- The tournament was originally named the European Nations’ Cup but it was changed to the UEFA European Championships in 1968.
- The trophy is named ‘The Henri Delaunay Cup’ in honour of its pioneer.
- Euro 2012 marks the 14th edition of the tournament, of which there have been nine different victors.
- Spain withdrew from the inaugural tournament in 1960 when Francisco Franco refused to travel to the USSR, whose government had supported the Second Spanish Republic against his rebels in the Civil War. Spain had beaten Poland 7-2 on aggregate in the first round.
- However, Franco allowed Spain to play against the Soviets in the 1964 European Nations’ Cup Final, which Spain hosted and won with a 2-1 victory, inspired by midfielder Luis Suárez, a key member of the great Fifties’ Barcelona side. Suárez later became Spanish national manager for the 1990 World Cup.
- Spain suffered heartbreak at the 1984 finals in France, when they were defeated by the hosts 2-0 in the final. Current UEFA president Michel Platini scored nine goals in that competition, making him the highest-scoring player in the history of the tournament, despite only taking part in that one edition.
- ‘La Furia Roja’ are the current holders of the Eurocopa title, after Fernando Torres’s goal defeated Germany 1-0 in the 2008 final. Barcelona striker David Villa was the top scorer that year with four goals.
- Spain are the fourth most successful nation in the history of the tournament, having amassed 48 points from 30 games (13 wins, 9 draws and 8 defeats) over eight campaigns.
23: the number of matches that the Spanish national side have gone unbeaten in the UEFA European Championships since a 2-0 defeat to Sweden in a qualifying match on October 7th, 2006.
12,000,000: the number of ticket applications received for the 1.4 million tickets available for this summer’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine, starting June 8th.
EURO 2012 FACTS & FIGURES
- According to the latest world standings, co-hosts Poland and Ukraine are the lowest-ranked nations in the competition, at no.65 and no.50 respectively.
- Vicente Del Bosque’s Spanish side are bidding to become the first country to retain the European crown.
- The 31 matches will be played in eight cities: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Poznan in Poland; Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv in Ukraine.
- This will be the last edition of the tournament to have a 16-team format. In France 2016, the finals of the competition will be contested by 24 teams.
SPAIN’S GROUP C FIXTURES
Sunday 10th June - Spain vs Italy
Thursday 14th June - Spain vs Ireland
Monday 18th June - Spain vs Croatia
You can follow coverage of the 2012 UEFA European Championships at www.euro2012footballguide.com