Spain are preparing for their fourth UEFA European Championship final, but as they approach the decider in Kyiv, they know things have not always gone their way in these matches. They took their first major crown at the 1964 EURO, but had a notable malfunction in the 1984 decider, when Michel Platini's free-kick heralded a French victory, and it took until 2008 for Iker Casillas's side to lay that ghost in Vienna.
21/06/1964, Spain 2-1 Soviet Union (Madrid)
Isacio Calleja: The star player par excellence, was Luisito Suárez. He had played at Deportivo La Coruña, and Barcelona, then he moved on to Inter Milan. He was the most charismatic, talented and classy player we had. Amancio Amara was really good too, and of course Marcelino, who scored the winner against the Soviet Union, was a great goalscorer. However, it was not just a group of great individuals, it as a great team – and very young. They were very together, very disciplined, and their skills... I won't say they were as great as what they have today, but it was a very balanced group.
27/06/1984 France 2-0 Spain (Paris)
Emilio Butragueño: The opening goal came from a strange move. It was in the goalmouth that was furthest away from our bench and I could see that the free-kick was a shot which Luís Arconada had covered, but suddenly there was the ball in the back of the net. It was all the more surprising because Arconada had a very safe pair of hands and had performed very well at the finals. In the semi-final, he was our saviour on several occasions. Then France scored their second goal in the closing minutes when we were throwing everything into attack, but that first one had been decisive in a match that had been very even until that moment.
Ricardo Gallego: We were mainly focused on Michel Platini. Camacho was marking him man to man. We were looking to work hard and focus to make the most of our chances and make sure that France didn't get any. We kept Platini under control, but then came that free-kick. I remember relaxing because I though he hadn't hit it properly – not strong enough or at the right angle – but then I turned round and I couldn't see the ball because it had rolled under Arconada. I couldn't believe it. I was thinking to myself: 'I cannot believe this has happened.' That lasted about ten seconds, and all we were thinking was how can we turn this match around?
29/06/2008 Germany 0-1 Spain (Vienna)
Iker Casillas: It is not that it was easy, but it was so clear in our minds that we were going to reach that final that there was nothing else to do but win once we got there. In the first 15 minutes we showed a little fear, or a healthy respect for Germany, and looked at each other as if to say: 'OK, so this is a final – this is not like the previous games.' Then Fernando Torres hit the post, and from there we knew the match was ours. Germany pressured us in the air as they were the bigger side, but our passing and mobility were far superior. We beat them 1-0, but it could easily have been 3-0.
I fulfilled my childhood dream, and cheered up thousands of Spaniards who were hoping that Spain would finally achieve something, and it was a magical moment for everyone: the public, and my friends and family. We had been European champions at Under-16 and U17 levels, and U20 World Cup winners. We had achieved so much at junior level that we hoped that one day it would also happen at a senior level, and that day we all felt a weight being lifted off our shoulders. When I lifted the trophy, my scream was the same scream that all Spaniards produced at the same time.
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