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EURO holders' title defences: Spain still the only team to retain EURO crown

EURO holders haven't fared too well in the past, with just one team successfully defending their crown.

Spain celebrate after successfully defending their title in 2012
Spain celebrate after successfully defending their title in 2012 ©Sportsfile

According to the oft-repeated mantra, teams learn how to win; they develop that winning mentality and titles snowball. Success, they say, breeds success. Or does it?

The EURO has long been a stubborn outlier that bucks the trend. Over the 17 editions, just one team has successfully defended their crown – Spain in 2012. La Roja reverted to type four years later, failing to make it past the round of 16.

Italy are the latest holders to have fallen foul of this particular quirk of history, having followed up their EURO 2020 triumph with a round of 16 exit in 2024.

EURO title defences

YearWinnersHow they fared next time
1960Soviet UnionRunners-up
1972West GermanyRunners-up
1976CzechoslovakiaThird place
1980West GermanyGroup stage
1984FranceDid not qualify
1992DenmarkGroup stage
1996GermanyGroup stage
2004GreeceGroup stage
2012SpainRound of 16
2016PortugalRound of 16
2020ItalyRound of 16

*Two-legged qualifier for four-team final tournament

World Cup holders have fared somewhat better at EUROs. France (2000) and Spain (2012) both won the continental crown, while Germany reached the 1976 and 1992 finals, and England achieved a third-place finish in 1968.

World Cup holders at a EURO

World Cup/EUROWorld championsHow they fared at EURO
1966/1968EnglandThird place
1974/1976West GermanyRunners-up
1982/1984ItalyDid not qualify
2018/2020FranceRound of 16

**Won 1990 World Cup as West Germany, entered EURO '92 as Germany

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