How does it feel to win a EURO?

What is it lke to take the biggest trophy in European national-team football? Let winners from the finals explain.

Marco van Basten scored one of the greatest EURO goals in the 1988 final
©Getty Images

Millions have dreamt of it, but only 187 players have actually savoured glory in a UEFA European Championship final*.

Here, a few winners recall their glory days.

THE FIRST: Viktor Ponedelnik (USSR, 1960) 
 Scorer of the extra-time winner in the first final
I always enjoy remembering that final – by beating Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union became the first ever European champions. My 113th-minute winner was the most important goal of my whole career. I scored plenty for my clubs and for the national team, but there are matches and goals which are really special, a high point of a player's sporting life. That was mine; the best moment of my life.

1964 winner Luis Suárez
1964 winner Luis Suárez©UEFA.com

THE HOME BOY: Luis Suárez (Spain, 1964) 
 Spain's midfield talisman as the hosts defeated the USSR
The Santiago Bernabéu was full. The fans identified with us, perhaps because we were a very young team. Even if a mistake was made – and with this young side the risk was high – the fans supported us. We performed well – the USSR had a very good team – and I think we deserved to win. Other Spain sides I played in were much better than 1964, yet we never achieved anything.

THE COOL CUSTOMER: Antonín Panenka (Czechoslovakia, 1976) 
 Struck winner in a 5-3 shoot-out victory over West Germany
I used to stay after training with our goalkeeper and practise penalties – we would play for a bar of chocolate or a glass of beer. He was very good, so it got expensive. So, before going to sleep, I tried to think up ways of getting the better of him. I got the idea that if I delayed the kick and then chipped it, a keeper who had dived could not recover in time. I tested it in practice and it soon gained weight – I was winning the bets. I began using it in friendlies, then the league, and the culmination was when I used it at the European Championship.

Horst Hrubesch in 1980
Horst Hrubesch in 1980©Getty Images

THE DARK HORSE: Horst Hrubesch (West Germany, 1980) 
 Late addition to squad who scored both his side's final goals
I had played three matches without scoring and if Jupp Derwall hadn't selected me, I couldn't have argued – looking back, he made the right choice. I scored the opener but in the second half we saw Belgium's class and they deservedly equalised on 75 minutes. We wouldn't have made it in extra time; it would have been too much. It was very hot that day and I remember being so tired after the game that it was hard to lift the trophy. My second goal, from a Karl-Heinz Rummenigge corner, was crucial.

THE MAGICIAN: Marco van Basten (Netherlands, 1988) 
 The '88 final was 54 minutes old when he hit THAT volley
The ball came from Arnold Mühren and I was thinking: 'OK, I can stop it and do things with all these defenders or I could do it the easy way, take a risk and shoot.' You need so much luck with these things and, at that moment, it was given to me. It was a fantastic feeling. That was the moment where we could say, 'It's 2-0; we can win this game.' But with the excitement about the goal, I didn't realise what I had done. You can see that in my reaction. I'm asking, 'What's happening?'

David Trezeguet after scoring against Italy
David Trezeguet after scoring against Italy©Getty Images

THE SUPER-SUB: David Trezeguet (France, 2000) 
 One of two France substitutes to register against Italy
Scoring the equaliser in the 94th minute [through Sylvain Wiltord] gave us even more will to win – and we took our chance. It started with a great move by Robert Pirès, and he put in a cross that was fairly difficult but I hit the ball as it dropped. All my force was in that shot – it had been a difficult championship for me because I had hoped to play a greater part. At first I was happy for my team-mates, then I was happy for my family, and finally I was happy for me. We had achieved our dream of being world and European champions.

THE OUTSIDER: Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece, 2004) 
 Captain as the 100-1 pre-tournament outsiders triumphed
Once we had scored, it was difficult for Portugal to beat 11 players defending so passionately. We all fought tooth and nail for the team and instead of getting tired, we started covering more ground; we wanted the cup more. When the referee ended the match, it was as if the lights went out... another blank spot in my memory. I had the constant smile of an idiot on my face for I don't know how many minutes. They were unbelievable moments.

THE STYLIST: Xavi Hernández (Spain 2008)
The midfielder was the talk of Europe as Spain finessed their way to glory
The football we played to win in 2008 was beautiful; not just the attacking side of things but how we were set up on the pitch. We were crowned champions without having to call upon the legendary 'furia española' (Spanish fury). We won playing a style of touch football combined with talented players. Luis [Aragonés] liked to play the game like Cruyff.

THE COMEBACK KING: Andrés Iniesta (Spain, 2012)
The pass-master helped Spain become the first side to win successive EUROs
[The 4-0 final win against Italy] was our most complete game at the finals. Maybe we needed a game like the final to leave a good taste in our mouths. It wasn't easy at all against Italy even if at times it may have seemed so. I left the finals feeling happier than I have ever felt; it is a magical sensation.

Cristiano Ronaldo kisses the trophy
Cristiano Ronaldo kisses the trophy©AFP/Getty Images

THE ABSENT FRIEND: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, 2016)
The No7 was a star behind the touchline after being injured early on
Ever since [Portugal's final defat at EURO] 2004, I asked God to give me another chance. Unfortunately, things didn't go well for me. I got injured in the first few minutes. We believed right from the start. We had difficult moments, but it's like I always say: it's better to start poorly and have a positive ending.

*187 players does not include five Italians who played the initial 1968 final, prior to the Azzurri's replay victory

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