The five biggest shocks in European Championship history

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • Updated: 4 Apr 2024 15:03 BST
  • 4 min read
Iceland, Euro 2016

International football has the ability to produce truly shocking results and the European Championship is no exception.

The 2024 edition of the tournament is right around the corner and several upsets may well happen in Germany as smaller nations look to shock the traditional bigger countries.

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Below, FootballTransfers runs through the five biggest shocks in European Championship history.

READ MORE: The 10 best European Championship transfers of all time

England 0-1 Ireland (Euro 1988)

In the first game of their Euro 1988 campaign, England suffered a shock defeat to the Republic of Ireland, who marked their first ever game at a major finals with a memorable win. The Three Lions were huge favourites to win, but a sixth minute goal from Ray Houghton was enough to secure victory for Ireland.

Gary Lineker missed three huge chances during the match and England went on to lose all three of their group stage fixtures in a tragically bad tournament.

READ MORE: The five worst European Championship transfers of all time

Denmark 2-0 Germany (Euro 1992)

Denmark didn’t even qualify for Euro 1992, yet they managed to win the tournament in one of the most memorable European Championships of all time.

They were handed a spot at the tournament after Yugoslavia were kicked out due to the Balkan War and Denmark were the ultimate dark horses, eventually winning the final against Germany.

Germany were the reigning world champions having emerged victorious at the 1990 World Cup, but they fell to a shock 2-0 defeat despite the fact Michael Laudrup, Denmark’s best player, didn't play in the entire tournament.

Czech Republic 2-1 Italy (Euro 1996)

Italy were one of favourites to win Euro 1996 after reaching the World Cup final two years prior, but they were surprisingly knocked out in the group stages after a shock defeat to Czech Republic.

Goals from Pavel Nedved and Radek Bejbl were enough for a 2-1 win at Anfield, and Italy exited the tournament after a 0-0 draw against Germany in their final group stage match.

Rank outsiders Czech Republic were competing in their first tournament as an independent nation and they reached the final before suffering a narrow 2-1 loss to Germany.

Portugal 0-1 Greece (Euro 2004)

Greece’s win at Euro 2004 is the biggest shock tournament victory in Euros history, along with Denmark’s aforementioned triumph in 1992.

They had only qualified for two international tournaments before Euro 2004, picking up just one point across six group stage games at Euro 1980 and the 1994 World Cup.

However, they defied the odds by winning Euro 2004, with victories over holders France in the quarter-final and Portugal in the final.

England 1-2 Iceland (Euro 2016)

Roy Hodgson promptly resigned as England manager after their abysmal 2-1 defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016.

Wayne Rooney had put the Three Lions one-nil up from the penalty spot in the fourth minute, but Ragnar Sigurdsson equalised two minutes later, before Joe Hart let a tame shot from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson squeeze underneath him in the 18th minute.

Iceland were ranked 34th in the world at the time and had a population of just 330,000, yet secured an unlikely win against one of Europe’s traditional football powerhouses.

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