EURO 1972: all you need to know

Gerd Müller hit four in West Germany's finals success; UEFA.com looks back in awe.

Gerd Müller scored two goals for West Germany in the final
Gerd Müller scored two goals for West Germany in the final

Who won the 1972 EURO?

The Soviet Union were no match for West Germany in the 1972 EURO final. Günter Netzer and Franz Beckenbauer were imperious in midfield and West Germany's lethal weapon Gerd Müller scored twice for the second time in the final tournament. Herbert Wimmer got the other goal as the Germans won 3-0, the largest EURO-final margin of victory until 2012. "Everything worked," recalled Müller. "We had a good harmony and understood each other very well. That also goes for when we were on the pitch. You cannot ask for more."

Who were the top scorers at the 1972 EURO?

EURO 1972 final highlights: West Germany 3-0 USSR
EURO 1972 final highlights: West Germany 3-0 USSR

A supreme finisher, Gerd Müller top-scored in the final tournament with four goals, and also prevailed in qualifying with seven (six strikes in the group phase and another in the quarter-finals). In fact, he is the only player to have topped the scorers rankings in both phases of a single EURO.

'Der Bomber' came to the tournament in Belgium having hit 40 Bundesliga goals for Bayern München in 1971/72 – the best seasonal haul of his career. His reputation would be further enhanced by scoring the winner in the FIFA World Cup final two years later. Team-mate Franz Beckenbauer said of him: "His acceleration was incredible. In training I played against him and I never had a chance."

Where was the 1972 EURO held?

Belgium staged the 1972 event, with all four games taking place at different venues. Brussels' Stade Émile Versé and Antwerp's Bosuilstadion were used for the semi-finals; Belgium beat Hungary in the third-place play-off at Liège's Stade Marcel Dufrasne; while the decider unfolded at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels.

Who coached the winning team at the 1972 EURO?

Highlights: Watch all of Gerd Müller’s EURO 1972 goals
Highlights: Watch all of Gerd Müller’s EURO 1972 goals

West Germany's Helmut Schön was player-coach of Hertha Berlin before taking the reins of 'Die Mannschaft'. Harvesting talent from Bayern München and Borussia Mönchengladbach, he had some great players in 1972: Beckenbauer dropped back to become the first of the great attacking sweepers; attacking left-back Paul Breitner and forward Uli Hoeness were superb young additions; and Günter Netzer was recalled to add flair, arrogance and flowing blond locks to the midfield. Germany were world champions two years later, but Schön said: "The team of 1972 was the best I ever fielded."

Who was the winning captain at the 1972 EURO?

Beckenbauer captained West Germany to their first EURO title, commanding matters from his new sweeper role to help his side dominate in 1972. 'Der Kaiser' also led home-town club Bayern München to a hat-trick of victories in the European Champion Clubs' Cup from 1974–76, and was twice European Footballer of the Year, in 1972 and 1976. He went on to coach West Germany to glory at the 1990 World Cup.

What was the format for the 1972 EURO?

This tournament retained the same structure as the one four years before. The qualifying round consisted of 32 teams split into eight four-team groups, with ties played throughout 1970 and 1971. The group winners progressed to the two-legged quarter-finals, played home and away, in April and May 1972. The final four teams then made their way to the final phase in Belgium between 14 and 18 June.

How many teams featured in the 1972 EURO?

Highlights: The best goals of EURO 1972
Highlights: The best goals of EURO 1972

Four teams figured at the 1972 EURO finals. Hosts Belgium made their finals debut, as did eventual champions West Germany. Runners-up the Soviet Union had posted three previous appearances (1960, 1964, 1968) while Hungary had been in the finals once before (1964).

How did 1972 EURO qualifying work?

Thirty-two teams joined in qualification for the 1972 EURO. Iceland were the only UEFA members absent from qualifying, having not entered since the 1964 edition. At the request of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the then annual British International Championship was no longer used as a qualifying group for the 1972 competition.

Who was in the 1972 EURO team of the tournament?

West Germany's Gerd Müller shoots in the 1972 EURO final
West Germany's Gerd Müller shoots in the 1972 EURO finaldpa Picture-Alliance/AFP

GK: Evgeni Rudakov (Soviet Union)
DF: Revaz Dzodzuashvili (Soviet Union)
DF: Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)
DF: Paul Breitner (West Germany)
DF: Murtaz Khurtsilava (Soviet Union)
MF: Uli Hoeness (West Germany)
MF: Günter Netzer (West Germany)
MF: Herbert Wimmer (West Germany)
FW: Raoul Lambert (Belgium)
FW: Jupp Heynckes (West Germany)
FW: Gerd Müller (West Germany)

Who scored the first goal at the 1972 EURO?

West Germany's Müller scored the opening goal of the 1972 EURO, glancing in the first of his two semi-final strikes 24 minutes into the 2-1 win against Belgium in Antwerp. 'Der Bomber' netted 365 times in 427 Bundesliga games for Bayern, 66 in 74 European club matches and – most astonishing of all – 68 in 62 internationals, 11 of them during this 1972 UEFA European Championship campaign.

The first goal of qualifying had come from Czechoslovakia's Milan Albracht, who tucked in after half an hour as his side drew 1-1 with Finland in Prague on 7 October 1970. The forward, three times a Czechoslovak league champion with Baník Ostrava and a recipient of five international caps (scoring two goals), was part of Czechoslovakia's 1970 World Cup squad. He later coached club sides in his native Slovakia.

Five top facts about the 1972 EURO

England's Bobby Moore greets West Germany's Franz Beckenbauer before their qualifier
England's Bobby Moore greets West Germany's Franz Beckenbauer before their qualifierPopperfoto via Getty Images

• Winners West Germany dominated the 1972 European Player of the Year poll with Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Gunter Netzer, first, second and third.

• The 3-0 final victory against the Soviet Union began a great run, with West Germany and then Germany reaching nine finals out of 13 EUROs and World Cups between 1972 and 1996.

• Gerd Müller's final double against the USSR arrived just 23 days after he struck four past the same opponents in a 4-1 friendly success.

• Had any of the games at EURO '72 ended level after extra time, they would have been settled on penalties; EURO '68 had seen games settled on the toss of a coin and (for the final) with a replay.

• In total, Müller scored 85 goals for club and country in 1972, a record that stood until Lionel Messi netted 91 in 2012. Müller said of Messi: "He only has one defect and that is that he doesn't play for Bayern."

Related Items