Culture: May 31, 2021

The European Championships have, in the past 60 odd years, given us some of footballs most enduring and iconic memories and have acted as a springboard to catapult countless players to stardom.

And there’s absolutely no better way of announcing yourself on the European scene than with an absolute belter of a goal. 

So today we’ll be looking back at what are, in our opinion, the ten greatest goals ever scored on Europe’s biggest stage. 


10. Henrik Larsson vs Bulgaria - Euro 2004 



This absolute bullet of a header scrapes in to the top ten by virtue of quite simply being the greatest header ever scored at a European Championships (sorry Ruud) 


Gazza vs Scotland - Euro 96 



Gazza cemented his status as the most gifted English player of his generation with this iconic goal against Scotland, putting Colin Hendry on his backside before firing past Andy Goram.


Karel Poborský vs Portugal Euro 96



After a slightly bumbling solo run Poborský sent it into orbit before finding the back of the net with his stunning goal in the Euro 96 quarter finals. 


Xherdan Shaqiri vs Poland - Euro 2016 



A bicycle kick from the edge of the box that Shaqiri somehow managed to squeeze into the tightest of gaps in the corner of Fabianski’s goal to save the tie for the Swiss.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Italy - Euro 2004 



Over the last twenty odd years it’s become almost routine to see Ibrahimovic utilising his well publicised Taekwondo skills, but back in 2004 it produced a goal unlike any seen before or since at the Euro’s.


Jon Dahl Tomasson vs Sweden Euro 2004 



A vastly underrated goal in the history of the tournament. Granted, the keepers positioning is genuinely terrible but the way Tomasson lashes across the ball to get it to drop into the far top corner is simply sublime.


Ronnie Whelan vs USSR - Euro 88



Back in 88 the boys from Ireland made route 1 look sexy with this outrageous effort from the diminutive Ronnie Whelan. More Copacabana than Cork.


Nuno Maniche vs the Netherlands - Euro 2004 



Although not a player who cemented his reputation among the greats of the game, Maniche was genuinely fantastic at Euro 2004. He struck this effort against the Netherlands about as sweetly as it’s possible to actually hit a ball to seal Portugal’s spot in the final.


Antonin Panenka vs West Germany - Euro 1976



Undoubtably the coolest thing anyone’s ever done at a European Championship, score and they win, miss and they don’t. Panenka elects to do something never before seen on a stage of this magnitude and because of it his name lives on forever.


Marco Van Basten vs USSR - Euro 88



And now to number 1. It was only ever going to be Van Basten. The context of it being a goal in the final undoubtably helps but really, it wouldn’t matter. It’s not just the greatest European Championships goal, it’s one of the best the game has ever seen. 


Words by Andy Gallagher






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