A hat-trick against England, a semi-final winner versus West Germany and, 32 years ago today, a spectacular volley to see off the Soviet Union in the final – Marco van Basten is not short of memories from 1988.
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Before the 1988 UEFA European Championship, 23-year-old Netherlands striker Marco van Basten was one of the most promising talents in the game.
A hat-trick against England, a semi-final winner versus West Germany and a spectacular volley from an acute angle to see off the Soviet Union in the final, and he was already in football's hall of fame. Not bad for someone who had just had his debut season at AC Milan interrupted by an ankle injury and who only started the opening match against the USSR on the bench.
Sitting out the opening game...
[Michels] chose Bosman because I was injured the entire season before. Bosman had already played a few games and did well, so there was no reason to change. Never change a winning team and Holland were winning. It was not a big problem for me to sit it out. I was not in good shape. I had no reason to think that I should be among the first XI. I was just watching and learning and waiting for the moment when I got my chance.
Hat-trick against England...
That was a very nice memory and a very important game for me, Holland and for my career. It was a game where everything changed. I had a difficult year with lot of injury problems. From that moment everything changed and everything went positive. I scored three goals and we won an exciting match against England. Afterwards, the other matches were easier and everything went well.
Coming up against West Germany's Jürgen Kohler in the semi-finals…
Both of us played hard. Sometimes he won, sometimes I won, but I think we always played with mutual respect: that is the most important thing in football, in the end. The game in Hamburg was a very special match for us because winning against Germany, especially in Germany, is not a thing that happens very often.
The press was writing that I was playing against [Kohler]. I was taking care of my team and he was doing his job in his team. I feel more that we as a team, Holland, were playing against Germany. The best thing was that after so many years of remembering the loss in '74, Holland finally won a semi-final.
We were on a roll. Everything was positive and a lot of players had found their confidence; I do not think that anybody was particularly nervous. We were convinced we could win the match and the whole tournament. That was a strong feeling we all had in the end. In the beginning we were afraid of losing and not being able to perform well; in the end we had confidence, which is very important in a tournament like that.Classics: watch the 1988 final
It was in the second half and I was a little tired. The ball came from Arnold Mühren and I was thinking, OK, I can stop it and do things with all these defensive players or I could do it the more easy way, take a risk and shoot. You know, you need a lot of luck with a shot like that. Everything went well. It is one of those things that sometimes just happens. You try to do it, but you need so much luck and at that moment it was given to me, to do it at the right time.
I can tell a lot of stories, but it was just a fantastic feeling. I have to be happy and thankful that such a moment was given to me and to Holland. That was the moment where we could say: "It is 2-0, we can win this game." But the excitement about the goal, I did not really understand it and what I did. You can also see that in my reaction. I am asking: "What is happening?"Download the EURO app