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2000: Football without frontiers

Forty-nine teams took part in the qualification round of the 2000 UEFA European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands, with the two hosts qualifying automatically for the 16-team finals.

Forty-nine teams took part in the qualification round of the 2000 UEFA European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands, with the two hosts qualifying automatically for the 16-team finals. 

Slovenian surprise
Of the 14 sides that advanced to join the hosts, Slovenia were the surprise team, qualifying after shocking the Ukraine in a play-off. The accent was on attack in the final tournament, with 85 goals in 31 matches.

England and Germany disappoint
England and Germany failed to advance beyond the group stages, but big guns France, Italy and the Netherlands all joined Portugal’s golden generation in the semi-finals. France prevailed 2-1 after extra-time, while Italy overcame the Netherlands on penalties despite being reduced to ten men after 34 minutes as the Dutch also missed two penalties in normal time.

French flair
Italy took the lead in the final through Marco Delvecchio, but Sylvain Wiltord equalised in the final minutes. Then David Trezeguet sealed France’s triumph with a “golden goal” winner, as Les Bleus became the first team to win the European Championship as world champions.