The first ever European Championship was hosted by France in 1960. And the inaugural edition of the tournament bore almost no resemblance to its modern incarnation.
First and foremost, there were 17 participating nations, but none of these traditional powerhouses of European football: Italy, England and West Germany, sent their teams to the event. The tournament was structured as such that the teams played a home and away leg and the resulting top four would then travelled to France to compete for the Henri Delaunay trophy.
Later, Spain, still under the dictatorship of General Franco refused to travel to the Soviet Union, which was the main supporter of the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War, and thus withdrew from the tournament. Ultimately, the semi-finals in France had three communist states: USSR, Czechoslovakia, and SFR Yugoslavia, apart from the hosts, France.
The first semi-final was a tightly contested affair between the hosts and Yugoslavia. It ultimately ended 5-4 in favour of the Yugoslavs as they made their way to the first ever final of the European Championship. Meanwhile, the second semi-final contested in Marseille was a one-sided affair as the Soviet Union prevailed 3-0 over Czechoslovakia courtesy of a brace from Valentin Ivanov and a solitary strike from Viktor Ponedelnik.
The third place playoff saw Czechoslovakia winning 2-0 over the demoralised French.
In the final, the Soviet Union were led by the indomitable Lev Yashin in goal but they went behind the Yugoslav’s in the 43rd minute when Milan Galic put his team ahead. Slava Mitreveli levelled the scores in the second half, before Ponedelnik scored the winning goal in extra time to help the Soviet Union win their first and still only major trophy in world football.
Here are the highlights of the Euro 1960 final on July 10, 1960 courtesy of sp1873
Ivanov, Ponedelnik, Galic, Drazan Jerkovic, and Francois Heutte finished as the top scorers at the tournament with two goals each.
Lev Yashin, still the only goalkeeper to win the coveted Ballon d’Or trophy.
At the end of the tournament, UEFA announced a best eleven and the following players made the team: Yashin, Vladimir Durkovic, Ladislav Novak, Igor Netto, Josef Masopust, Ivanov, Metreveli, Galic, Ponedelnik, Dragoslav Sekularac and Bora Kostic.
Wasi is a keen fan with loads of knowledge about the game. He has written for some of the world’s leading soccer websites and is a major Barcelona and Pune City FC fan. He loves the Champions League and watches 200+ EPL games & La Liga games per season.