As 1986 FIFA World Cup runners-up West Germany again came into a major tournament with a formidable reputation, while Italy, England and Spain were also highly rated contenders. The Netherlands, meanwhile, were seeking to break their major international trophy drought. The Oranje would rise to the occasion in swashbuckling style, defeating their hosts and great rivals for the first time in 32 years on the way to a final victory over the Soviet Union, sealed by Marco van Basten's exquisite volley.
Runners-up: Soviet Union
Semi-finalists: West Germany, Italy
Group stage: Spain, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, England
Top scorers: Marco van Basten (Netherlands) – 5
Did you know?
The Soviet Union became the first four-time finalists in 1988 – on their last appearance in the competition as the USSR.
Also in 1988
European Champion Clubs' Cup winners: PSV Eindhoven (0-0 aet, 6-5 pens v SL Benfica)
European Footballer of the Year: Marco van Basten (AC Milan)
Eurovision Song Contest winner: Céline Dion (Switzerland) singing Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi
European Golden Boot winner: Tanju Çolak (Galatasaray AŞ)
Nobel Peace Prize winner: United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces (for their participation in various conflicts since 1956)
Men's Olympic 100m champion: Carl Lewis (United States) running an Olympic record 9.92
Formula 1 world champion: Ayrton Senna (Brazil) driving a McLaren
Oscar for Best Picture: Rain Man
27 September – Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson sent home from Seoul Olympic games after testing positive for a banned substance, three days after setting a new world record of 9.79 in the 100m final
29 September – Space shuttle Discovery lifts off from Cape Canaveral, two-and-a-half years after the Challenger disaster
2 December – A cyclone in Bangladesh leaves five million homeless and thousands dead
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