The best goals in the history of the Euros

Chris Rivers
March 25th 2021, 7:29 pm
Last Updated 3 years ago
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With 15 tournaments spanning 46 years under its belt, there’s plenty to consider when compiling a best-of list for the European Championships. Starting out as a select four-team tournament, the Euros has grown to a monster 24-team competition, giving us plenty of games and goals to consider.

We’ve been through the archives to narrow down the large field of great European Championship goals to 10 of the best in the history of the competition.

Top 10 goals in Euro history

10. Frank de Boer (Netherlands v France, Euro 2000)

The phrase ‘put some swaz on it’ hadn’t been invented when Frank de Boer stepped up to take a free-kick in the group stage clash between his Netherlands side and France at Euro 2000, but his effort certainly fits the ‘swaz’ criteria. The now Dutch national team manager was very capable from a set-piece in his playing days and didn’t disappoint when unleashing a bending effort from 30 yards-plus that caught French goalkeeper Bernard Lama cold, much to the delight of the Amsterdam crowd.

9. Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales v Belgium, Euro 2016)

The greatest goal in Welsh football history? Certainly one of the most important as it propelled Wales to the upset of Euro 2016 as they beat Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-finals. Not only was the result shocking but so was the fact Robson-Kanu was able to bag a goal of this ilk. Receiving the ball with his back to goal in the box, the West Brom forward’s turn left two Belgian defenders for dead before he buried his shot to put Wales on the road to the semi-finals.

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden v France, Euro 2012)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and remarkable goals go hand-in-hand so it is no surprise to see his name on this list. Demonstrating all the technical ability that makes him such a freak athlete for a man of his size, Ibrahimovic was able to measure Seb Larsson’s cross before producing a remarkable scissor volley to beat Hugo Lloris in goal. It’s a shame Sweden crashed out at the group stages of Euro 2012 as who knows what Ibrahimovic could have produced in the knockouts. It was a vintage year for the AC Milan forward in 2012 as he bettered this effort five months later with a remarkable 30-yard bicycle kick against England.

7. Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland v Poland, Euro 2016)

No doubt Ibrahimovic wouldn’t agree with finishing below Xherdan Shaqiri, given these are two similar goals, but the effort by the mercurial Swiss is simply just better. Not only is he further out when he hits the shot but the Liverpool man also produces the always-exciting overhead kick to score. The goal also came in the final 10 minutes of a knockout match, enhancing its importance. How it didn’t win goal of the tournament remains a puzzler.

6. Tomas Brolin (Sweden v England, Euro 1992)

The best team goal in European Championship history was started and finished by Thomas Brolin. In a moment that ended England’s Euros, the hosts were able to put together a sublime move that cut the Three Lions to shreds eight minutes from full-time. Brolin played one-twos with Klas Ingesson and Martin Dahlin before a superb finish; the goal made all the better by the commentary of Barry Davies.

5. Davor Suker (Croatia v Denmark, Euro1996)

If you like chips and Euro 96, then you are going to enjoy our next two entries. We start with a remarkable effort from Croatian national hero Davor Suker, who was able to make the great Peter Schmeichel look silly with this effort. Catching the Danes on a counter-attack, Suker was able to bring the ball under his spell before neatly chipping it over Schmeichel from an acute angle in a 3-0 group stage win for the Croats.

4. Karel Poborsky (Czech Republic v Portugal, Euro 1996)

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding between Suker and Karel Poborsky’s goals at Euro 96 but the Czech’s effort just gets the nod on this list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the goal was the winner in the quarter-final clash between the Czech Republic and Portugal. Secondly, Poborsky was able to produce his goal despite having five Portugal defenders bearing down on him, showing real nerves of steel. The ex-Manchester United winger might have got a bit lucky in the build-up but everything thereafter was pure magic.

3. Paul Gascoigne (England v Scotland, Euro 1996)

Finishing off our mini-list of great goals from Euro 96 is the iconic effort from Paul Gascoigne in England’s group stage win over Scotland. In a summer that changed the perception of football for a whole country, this was arguably the high point for England fans as Gazza lobbed the ball over Colin Hendry before thumping it into the net. The celebration that followed was equally iconic and just adds to a high-class goal that is etched into the memory of all football fans watching that day.

2. Maniche (Portugal v Netherlands, Euro 2004)

The mystery of how Portugal didn’t win Euro 2004 remains unsolved but at least they had some nice memories en route to the final, including a thrilling semi-final victory over the Netherlands. The highlight of the last-four encounter was this stunning thunderbolt from Maniche, who picked the ball up from a short corner before producing a rasping, bending drive that left Edwin van der Sar with no chance.

1. Marco Van Basten (Netherlands v Soviet Union, Euro 1988)

There could only be one choice for top spot on this list. Even all these years on, this goal still stands the test of time. The fact Van Basten’s unbelievable volley came in the final of Euro 1988 only adds to its mystique. Euro 88 belonged to the then-AC Milan frontman as he won the golden boot with five goals and obviously his confidence was through the roof as he lined this volley up.

Arnold Muhren’s initial cross looked like it had gone too deep as the Dutch attacked the Soviets, only for Van Basten, in line with the edge of the six yard box, to produce one of the great volleys as he smashed it back across the face of goal and into the far corner. Not just the greatest goal in European Championship history but arguably one of the best goals ever.


Chris Rivers

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor.