European Championships Retrospectives: 1964

This is the second part of a retrospective look at Euro ’64 (read part one here), itself the second in a historical series looking at previous European Championships ahead of Euro 2008 (see part one on 1960 here).

Spain 641964 European Nations’ Cup Finals
Host: Spain

Winners: Spain

Yes, you that read that correctly: Spain, the perennial underachievers of international football, actually won this tournament. Of course, like England two years later, Spain’s only major victory had a considerable assist from hosting the final tournament.

In the first part of this article, we looked at how the holders, the Soviet Union, powered their way past Italy to the semi-finals, where they’d face Denmark, who had progressed mainly thanks to a favourable draw. Meanwhile, the hosts Spain would play Hungary, perhaps not the force they had been in their 1950s heyday, but a dangerous threat all the same.

Remember, the tournament was very different from today in 1964: the finals (the host was chosen once the semi-finalists had been determined) only featured four teams.


Madrid, June 17, Santiago Bernabéu
Spain 2-1 Hungary [aet]
[Pereda 35, Amancio 115; Bene 84]; [ref: Blavier (Belgium); att: 125,000]

Managed by José Villalonga Llorente, who had won the first ever European Cup with Real Madrid at the age of 36 in 1956 and had done the La Liga/Copa Latina/European Cup treble in 1957, Spain had blitzed through the qualifying campaign. Their star players included Inter Milan’s Luis Suárez, European Footballer of the Year in 1960, and Real Madrid’s winger Amancio. Their intricate football was applauded by all, and Spain were not yet haunted by the interminable self-doubt that would later characterise their play.

Hungary, meanwhile, were still trying to shake off the shadow of the magnificent 1950s team, and reaching the semi-finals was an impressive feat in itself. Indeed, they would twice reach the World Cup quarter-finals in the 1960s, and were led by Ferencváros’ Florian Albert, who Jonathon Wilson recently said “stands among the greatest centre-forwards the world has ever known” (he would win the Ballon d’Or in 1967).

The game matched the pedigree of the two teams. Luis Suarez helped set-up Jesus María Pereda to give Spain the lead in the 35th minute, but Újpesti Dózsa’s Ferenc Bene forced extra time with an 84th minute equaliser. With just five minutes left in extra time, Amancio broke the deadlock, and Spain had reached the final.

Spain: Iribar, Rivilla, Calleja, Zoco, Olivella, Fusté, Amancio, Pereda, Marcelino, Suárez, Lapetra
Hungary: Szentmihalyi, Mátrai, Mészöly, Sárosi, Nagy, Sipos, Bene, Komora, Albert, Tichy, Fenyvesi

Barcelona, June 17, Nou Camp
Soviet Union 3-0 Denmark

[Voronin 19, Ponedelnik 40, V.Ivanov 87]
[ref: Lo Bello (Italy); att: 38,000]

In the other semi-final, Denmark were easily outclassed by the strong Soviet team, led by goalkeeper Lev Yashin — perhaps the greatest of all-time. Denmark had done well to get this far, but it’d be almost two decades before they’d be taken seriously as an international footballing force again. The Soviets, meanwhile, marched on as expected, but would now have to take on the hosts.

Soviet Union: Yashin, Chustikov, Shesternev, Mudrik, Voronin, Anichkin, Chislenko, V.Ivanov, Ponedelnik, Gusarov, Khusainov
Denmark: L.Nielsen, J.Hansen, K.Hansen, B.Hansen I, Larsen, E.Nielsen, Bertelsen, Sørensen, O.Madsen, Thorst, Danielsen

Madrid, June 21, Santiago Bernabéu
Spain 2-1 Soviet Union

[Pereda 6, Marcelino 84; Khusainov 8]
[ref: Holland (England); att: 105,000]

So, as some might see as fated, the Soviets would have to travel to the heart of Franco’s regime, Madrid, to defend their trophy. Four years earlier, Spain had refused to go to Moscow to take on the Soviets in the inaugural European Nations’ Cup, but this time, Franco would watch from the home stands as the Communist nation’s representatives played his team in front of 105,000 at the Bernabéu.

Named after Santiago Bernabéu Yeste, who fought for Franco’s army during the Spanish Civil War and later became Real Madrid’s president, the stadium had been expanded to keep ahead of Barcelona’s Nou Camp. The huge crowd exploded when Jesús María Pereda opened the scoring in the sixth minute (though Pereda played for Barcelona, perhaps not entirely to Franco’s delight). A cross from the right-wing had been muffed by two Soviet defenders, with Pereda on hand to lash it home from ten yards out.

But just two minutes later, Galimzyan Khusainov’s shot wriggled under the grasp of José Ángel Iribar to make it 1-1. Deadlock remained until the 84th minute, when Marcelino Martínez powered in a winning downward header from just right of the penalty spot.

Franco was delighted, and it soon became known that, not surprisingly, the defeat had deeply disappointed Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschchev. Neither team has won a major title since.

Spain: Iribar, Rivilla, Olivella, Calleja, Zoco, Fusté, Amancio, Pereda, Marcelino, Suárez, Lapetra
Soviet Union: Yashin, Chustikov, Shesternev, Mudrik, Voronin, Anichkin, Chislenko, V.Ivanov, Ponedelnik, Korneev, Khusainov

Here are the goals from the final:

Tournament Facts:Top scorer, overall: O.Madsen (Denmark) 11 goals
Top scorers, finals tournament: Pereda (Spain), Bene and Novák (Hungary) 2 goals
Goals scored (finals only): 13 (3.25 per match)Sources: RSSF.com; Jonathon Wilson, Behind the Curtain; David Goldblatt, The Ball is Round

Comments are closed.