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How Many Teams Have Retained the Euros?

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The Euros – Who Has Been The Most Successful?

European Championship fever is in the air somewhat - the news that the UK and Ireland will be hosting Euro 2028 broke earlier this week, while domestic football has taken a backseat until next weekend for an international break that will see more qualifiers for this summer’s Euros be played.

The tournament, which is being held in Germany across June and July 2024, will be the 17th edition since its inception in 1960 some 65 years ago, and it has changed a lot since then. It has gone from a tournament that initially only had 4 nations participating throughout its first five editions, to now being a 24-nation tournament that has grown in prestige, quality and saw the last edition take place across 11 of the continent’s 40+ countries.

So, with the next iteration rolling around in a few months, we are going to take a look at some quick history about the competition, including a look through the winners, the losers and the nations that have come close to glory throughout the years, and based on the current state of play, who could be at the next one in Germany in 8 months’ time.

Which Countries Have Won The Tournament, And Have Any Of Them Ever Retained It?

A total of 10 different countries have won the competition since its inception in 1960, with Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands and the former countries of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia all lifting the trophy at different points of the European Championship’s 65-year history.

Of these 10 countries, just four of them have won the competition more than once, with both Spain and Germany having won it three times. Italy and France have won it twice each to round off the list, with the six other victorious countries listed having won the Euros just once each.

However, just one country has won the tournament back-to-back in the competition’s 65-year history. Three-time winners Spain, who won the first of their three in 1964, are the only nation to have ever retained the Euros when they beat Germany 1-0 in 2008 before thrashing Italy 4-0 in 2012.

Have Any Other Teams Ever Come Close To Retaining the Euros?

Soviet Union

The unluckiest participant in European Championships history is the former Soviet Union, who have appeared in the final of the competition on four occasions but have lost in three of them. 1960, which was actually the first-ever edition of the tournament, was the one and only time that the Soviets tasted success in a Euros final, beating Yugoslavia 2-1 after extra-time.

1964 was the first of three defeats in Euros finals for the Soviets, with Spain ultimately triumphing 2-1 on home soil. In 1968, the Soviets again made it all the way to the semi-finals but were beaten to a place in the final by Italy, who were given passage not through victory on the pitch, but actually via a coin toss.

Now at this time, in all matches except the final, any teams that couldn’t be separated after extra-time would see the outcome of the match be decided by the toss of a coin by the referee – and after a 0-0 draw, Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti called correctly to send his country through to the final against Yugoslavia, with the Azzurri ultimately winning and collecting the first of their two Euros.

Fast forward four years later to 1972, and the Soviets would once again make the final. This time however, West Germany stood in their way, and the Germans would run out 3-0 winners in what was ultimately a very one-sided final. The Soviet Union’s last appearance in a final came in 1988, but they again lost, this time to the Netherlands in a match that contained one of the most famous goals ever scored – Marco Van Basten’s exquisite volley from what was an extremely tight angle.


Circling back to Germany, the country has a joint-record of three wins, but they also have finished as runners-up three times, a record that they share with the Soviet Union.

The Germans’ first tournament win came in 1972, and they would have joined Spain as the only other nation to have retained the trophy had they won in 1976, when they faced off against Czechoslovakia in the final. However, they ultimately lost on penalties. Four years later in 1980, they beat Belgium 2-1 in that year’s final for their second tournament win having missed out on retaining in ’76.

Teams That Have a 100% Record in the Final

The Netherlands, Denmark and Greece are the only countries to have never finished as runners-up in the competition’s history, with the Greeks stunning the continent when they beat Portugal 1-0 in the final of Euro 2004 in what is considered to be one of the greatest achievements in international football.

Denmark’s 1992 win is arguably as impressive and memorable, but for other reasons – the Danes were never meant to be at the competition in the first place. But with Yugoslavia having been disqualified just ten days before the tournament began due to the breakup of the country amid the conflict taking place in the country at the time, a replacement was needed. Denmark were subsequently selected, and the rest is history, with a 2-0 victory over Germany in the final the ultimate icing on the cake.

And finally, the Netherlands. They are just the third nation to have won the Euros at the only time of asking, with the Dutch beating the Soviet Union 2-0 in 1988 in what remains their only appearance in the final of the competition.

Beaten Finalists That Have Never won the Euros

Up next is the former Yugoslavia, who appeared in two finals in 1960 and 1968, and wound up losing both of them. The first of those two defeats came at the hands of the Soviets in 1960 after a 2-1 loss in extra-time, while Italy triumphed in a replay in 1968 – the initial final ended in a 1-1 draw, and with rules at the time stipulating that a replay would take place in the event of a draw in the final, it was the Italians who won thanks to goals from Luigi Riva and Pietro Anastasi.

But alongside Yugoslavia, there are two other countries who have failed to win the competition despite making it all the way to the final – England and Belgium. As many readers will surely know, England lost the most recent iteration of the competition on home soil, ultimately losing 3-2 on penalties to Italy at Wembley Stadium. In Belgium’s only final appearance in 1980, they would end up losing 2-1 to West Germany, with Horst Hrubesch’s brace, including an 88th-minute strike, condemning the Belgians to heartbreak.

Beaten Finalists That Have won the Euros

Italy have won the entire competition twice, but have also tasted defeat in the final twice, losing to Spain in 2012 and France in 2000. But it is the manner of those defeats will pain the Italians, who were embarrassingly thrashed 4-0 by the Spaniards in the final just over a decade ago, while their loss to France in 2000 came as a result of the “Golden Goal” rule – a Sylvain Wiltord equaliser in stoppage-time forced the game to go to extra-time, where David Trezeguet scored the Golden Goal to hand France the glory. Like Italy, France have also won the competition twice, but have tasted final defeat just once when they lost to Portugal on home soil in 2016.

Both Portugal and the Czech Republic have identical records when it comes to the final of the Euros, with both countries having made the final twice, losing and winning one each. As already mentioned, the Portuguese suffered shock defeat to Greece in 2004, but made amends 12 years later when they beat France in 2016.

The Czech Republic won in their first appearance in a final in 1976, when the country, then known as Czechoslovakia, beat West Germany 5-3 on penalties in what was a tightly contested, cagey affair. The two countries would meet again 20 years later in the final of Euro 1996, where the Germans would ultimately get their revenge in heartbreaking fashion. The Czechs initially led through a Patrik Berger penalty, but Oliver Bierhoff’s double, the second of which fell under the Golden Goal rule in place at the time, condemned the Czechs to defeat.