As domestic season edge towards their closure around the continent, attention has begun to focus on the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament in France. For the first time ever, 24 teams will compete in a newly expanded tournament with 5 teams making their debuts and each and every country having realistic ambitions to progress from the first stage. We are in for a feast of football this summer and Euro 2016 will throw up the usual array of surprises, drama and moments of disbelief. I always felt the European Football Championships went over too quickly, but with the addition of the new teams we are in for more football, more goals and more memorable moments than in any previous Euro tournament.
To get your appetite wet for the big occasions here are some interesting facts and trivia about the history of the European Football Championships Quiz –
- The tournament has gradually grown over the years and more nations than ever have had the chance to compete in the final stages. The 1996 tournament in England marked the first occasions in which 16 teams competed in the event. 22 years later this has been expanded to 24 teams making Euro 2016 the biggest international tournament of all time outside of the World Cup. Albania, Iceland, Slovakia, Northern Ireland and Wales will all as a result make their debut at the event!
- France will be hosting the tournament for a record 3rd They held the first event in 1960 and then again in 1984. France won the tournament in 1984 which was the last occasion in which a host has actually won the tournament on home soil. The only other nation to achieve this was Italy in 1968. After winning the World Cup on home soil in 1998, can France repeat that fate 18 years later and be crowned Euro 2016 winners? Only time will tell.
- Two teams are on the brink of history if they were to go all the way and lift the Euro 2016 trophy in July. Spain would not only become the first team to win the event for a fourth time should they pick up the trophy, but they would also be the first team to win a consecutive hat trick of titles. Germany have also the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth title and the reigning World Champions must be considered red hot favourites for Euro 2016!
- Let’s look at some numbers……53 teams attempted to qualify for Euro 2016 with 24 reaching the finals. Over the course of the tournament 51 games will be played. 10 stadiums in 10 cities will host matches with over 1.3 million tickets already sold.
- The mascot of Euro 2016 is Super Victory, a child superhero wearing a full French kit. He was debuted in 2014 before a friendly against Sweden and his name was selected in a public poll narrowly defeating Driblou.
- David Guetta has produced the official song for Euro 2016, yet to be unveiled.
- Gibraltar is the smallest ever nation in terms of population to attempt to qualify for the European Championships. Although unsuccessful in their bid to qualify the nation seeks to return for the 60th anniversary of the tournament in 2020.
- Germany are the outright most successful team in the history of the European Championships appearing as winners or runners up a record 6 times. Both Czech Republic and Yugoslavia have the unwanted record of appearing in two finals without success and both Denmark and Greece have won the only finals they have appeared in.
- Only one nation has appeared in every single tournament since 1972 and that is Germany. They have made a record 12 appearances if you count Euro 2016.
- Spain waited a record 44 years between their titles in 1964 and 2008. Spain are also one of 4 teams
- Goal line technology will be used for the first ever time at a European Football Championships. Euro 2016 will see its fair share of controversies but hopefully the new technology will result in fairer decision all round.
- There are plenty of tasty derbies in the first rounds of this year’s contest with the likes of England/Wales, Austria/Hungary and Germany/Poland taking each other one. What other fixtures will Euro 2016 throw up? With the 3rd place in certain groups assured of qualification it’s a case of any rival nation facing the prospect of an encounter at some point!
- If Grant Xhaka of Switzerland and his big brother Taulant Xhaka line up against each other on June 11 when the Swiss take on Albania, Euro 2016 will enter the history books as the first tournament in which brothers have competed against each other on opposing sides.
- Some of the most capped players in European football history will line up against each on the big stage at Euro 2016. Iker Casillas with 166 caps for Spain recently became the most capped player of all time in Europe with Gig Buffon not far behind on 156 and the prolific Robbie Keane on 143. It will also mark the swan songs of many players at a major international tournament including Zlatan Ibrahimović.
I hope you enjoyed these Euro 2016 trivia nuggets, some more interesting than others I readily admit, but come June all will be forgotten when the eyes of the continent turn to France and to see history in the making. Who will break records at Euro 2016? Will new records be set? Will a nation win their first time or will the first 4-time champion emerge? We are in for a great summer of football that much is sure.
In the build up why not try our free Euros Quiz