Euro 2020, having been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, is now set to start on Friday.
It’s a tournament we’ve all been waiting for and we’re excited to see it get under way with England one of the favourites to win the whole thing.
As we get ready for the next instalment of the European Champions is made us all nostalgic.
No matter your age, we’ve all got a favourite moment from past tournament which excites and gets us all misty eyed.
talkSPORT.com‘s esteemed group of writers are no different and they have picked out some of their favourite memories from previous European Championships to whet your appetite for Euro 2020.
Sean O’Brien (GameDay Editor)
As a 25-year-old who roots for England and Ireland, the Euros have brought little joy in my lifetime. On the pitch, at least.
My favourite memory, therefore, isn’t a great goal or a dramatic victory – it’s the Will Grigg phenomenon at Euro 2016.
Northern Ireland fans totally hijacked the tournament, the scenes in the streets of France were special. And suddenly, everyone across Europe was singing ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’, even Germany’s Mats Hummels.
Grigg didn’t even play most of the time! All that fuss over a League One striker.
Jake Bacon (Sports Writer)
After a stuttering start against Russia at Euro 2016, the pressure was ramped up on England for their clash with Wales.
Gareth Bale gave the Dragons the lead with a long-range free-kick, which Joe Hart should have saved.
Taking Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling off for Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy at half-time seemed to be a last throw of the dice by Roy Hodgson, but his substitutions paid off brilliantly.
Vardy equalised four minutes before the hour mark and Sturridge scored in injury time to, what we thought would, kickstart England’s Euro 2016 campaign.
A disappointing goalless draw with Slovakia followed, before the game against Iceland – and we don’t need to relive that. The dramatic win over Wales was the only good moment in a dreadful tournament for England.
Anton Stanley (Features Editor)
Sometimes football isn’t all about the result – I know, right? The atmosphere you cultivate with those surrounding you often makes those magical moments even more special – even if injury time goals wreck the best laid plans.
Saturday June 11, 2016 started with a tremendous downpour and a leg stretch from Mile End to The Horn of Plenty in Stepney Green, a lovely pub full of friendly faces – who else would you want to be with while watching Switzerland defeat Albania thanks to a Fabian Schar strike?
Onwards! Next the assembled forces were at the New Rose in Islington, the rain had cleared just in time for us to see Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu swat away a tricky Slovakia test, and earn this then-eager punter a few extra quid which would immediately be plowed into the stocks of craft beer, but the tension was also building for the main event.
Some fresh air and more friends for pizza at The Hanbury Arms and the real party – England vs Russia. Ultimately it was only a 1-1 draw but there was utter bliss in the 72nd minute.
Dele Alli fouled, Harry Kane and Eric Dier over the ball. Wayne Rooney, the old guard, steps aside for the young Spurs duo.
“What’s Dier like at free-kicks?” a wide-eyed friend asked. “You know what, I don’t think I’ve seen him take one,” I replied.
Bang. Igor Akinfeev didn’t stand a chance and neither did the drinks which went flying. Warm embraces with bodies known and unknown. What more could you want?
Just a shame about the Vasili Berezutski equaliser…
Oliver Dawnay (Sports Writer)
Not especially a favourite – but hilarious nonetheless.
June 27, 2016 remains one of the darkest days in England’s history. The Three Lions were knocked out of Euro 2016, beaten 2-1 by the footballing ‘giants’ of Iceland.
However, we can be thankful that the disasterclass at least produced one of the most iconic pieces of commentary, courtesy of none other Steve McClaren.
The Sky Sports News coverage was remarkable, wonderfully brilliant. Why? Because McClaren – a man synonymous with rubbish England results – cheered everyone up with this incredibly unfortunate bit of commentary.
With his usual optimism, McCLaren claimed England were playing well and taking control of the game before, well, you can listen for yourself…
And who can forget Mark Saggers’ iconic rant at the final whistle of the embarrassing defeat? It’s still talked about in the talkSPORT studios today…
Joe Coleman (Sports Writer)
The sight of Wayne Rooney terrorising grown men in Portugal never fails to amaze me. The older I get, the more astonishing it seems the ‘Toxteth Terror’ took to the biggest stage of European football with such consummate ease.
Despite what his passport may have said, Rooney did not look like an 18-year-old boy.
The protruding chest hair billowing out of his Umbro shirt (a personal favourite as you could wear it inside out) and the broad shoulders made him look like a grizzled veteran.
In the first game against France he toyed with Lillian Thuram and Mikael Silvestre, stealing the spotlight from Thierry Henry and David Beckham that night in Lisbon.
I remember racing home from school to watch the teenager wreak yet more havoc on the Swiss defence in the next group game.
Like a British bulldog who had not been fed for days, the Everton striker chased and harried after every loose ball and his two goals were the least he deserved from his two performances.
Playing in a mundane 4-4-2 under the stodgy Sven Goran Eriksson, the Three Lions were revitalised by Rooney and his laissez-faire attitude. Reputations meant absolutely nothing to the marauding number nine leading the charge.
His display against Croatia to secure passage to the next round will be forever remembered as the night a global superstar was born.
Sponsorship deals with Nike followed, posing for front covers of FIFA games became routine and Sir Alex Ferguson parted with £30million to bring the teenage sensation to Old Trafford on the back of Rooney’s masterful performance.
A rasping 20-yard drive and a composed finish to wrong foot the keeper epitomised all that was good about Rooney; his ability to do absolutely anything on a football pitch and make playing at the highest level look like a game of ‘Wembley’ with your mates and their jumpers.
But once again, the curse of the metatarsal struck against Portugal when Rooney (having lost his boot) tried to play on after a typically crunching tackle in the first knockout game.
He tried valiantly to play on, but the writing on the wall was as distinguishable as the grimace on his ruddy face. England’s confidence and swagger dissipated in seconds as Darius Vassell trudged on to replace him.
The Three Lions would tumble out on penalties yet again, with Rooney forced to wait until the resumption of the Champions League to return to the world stage.
The hat-trick on his debut will have brought back a wry smile to the faces of those who followed the most precocious talent England had produced in a generation as he sparkled in Portugal during that glorious summer of 2004.
Sean Gallagher (Senior Sports Writer)
Mine is Robbie Brady’s dramatic winner for the Republic of Ireland against Italy in Euro 2016. Against all the odds Martin O’Neill’s men qualified for the last-16 of the competition in the most dramatic of circumstances.
I was unable to get a ticket for that particular game – such was the unprecedented demand – even after attending most of the home qualifiers ahead of the tournament. Ireland have the best fans in the world though, so I wasn’t surprised one bit.
A local Irish bar with my friend, David Deacy, had to do and there were more than a fair few pints of Guinness and Magners up in the air when Brady headed home from close range.
No words could do that moment justice…
On a glorious night under the roof at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, a new chapter in Irish football history was written after the Republic of Ireland secured a first win at the Euros since beating England in 1988 and a first at a major tournament since getting the better of Saudi Arabia at the 2002 World Cup.
O’Neill’s side went on to push the tournament hosts and eventual finalists France all the way – taking the lead inside the first minute through a Brady penalty – before two goals from Antoine Griezmann sent Ireland home.
Irish fans won the hearts of the French city on and off the field, receiving the Medal of the City of Paris as a mark of gratitude for their ’exemplary behaviour’ during the tournament.
You’ll never beat the Irish…
Jackson Cole (Sports Writer)
People talking about the ‘right way’ to play football is a pet hate of mine so Greece’s triumph at Euro 2004 is something I look back on so fondly. Winning the tournament through what was essentially ‘Park the Bus’ tactics is the ultimate two fingers to the snobs of football.
A water-tight defence was the only way Greece would get results and they did it impeccably as they stifled their world-class opponents. They beat holders France in the quarter-finals, Czech Republic – Euro 2004’s form team – after that and then host nation Portugal in the final having already claimed their scalp in the tournament’s opener.
Maybe the football wasn’t attractive in the conventional sense but I was mesmerised to see the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Pavel Nedved and many more struggle to deal with players including Theodoros Zagorakis and Angelos Charisteas.
It’s not quite Leicester winning the Premier League but it’s one of sport’s great fairytales.