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UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Slovakia

We continue our look at the history and pedigree of all 24 UEFA EURO 2020 contenders. Next up: Slovakia.

Slovakia celebrate Marek Hamšík's goal against Russia at EURO 2016
Slovakia celebrate Marek Hamšík's goal against Russia at EURO 2016 @Getty Images

EURO pedigree

Previous final tournaments: 4 (1 as Slovakia, 3 as Czechoslovakia)
EURO best: winners as Czechoslovakia (1976), round of 16 as Slovakia (2016)

Slovak players were crucial when Czechoslovakia took medals in every EURO they qualified for: bronze in 1960 and 1980, and gold in 1976. However, after the Czech Republic and Slovakia went their separate ways, Slovakia had a barren spell, missing out on five straight EUROs before making their breakthrough at EURO 2016, getting through the group stage and eventually losing to Germany.

Watch the goal that sent Slovakia to EURO 2020
Watch the goal that sent Slovakia to EURO 2020

Key players

Marek Hamšík (126 caps, 26 goals)
Slovakia's most-capped international and all-time top scorer remains their most important player. Now 33, the midfielder made his senior debut in February 2007 and captained Slovakia for the first time at 21. He was his country's main marksman during that trail-blazing EURO 2016 qualifying campaign with five goals.

Milan Škriniar (36 caps, 0 goals)
The Inter Milan centre-half with excellent passing ability plays an important role in building up play from the back. A regular Slovakia starter since Ján Ďurica retired from the national set-up in 2017, he appeared in two games at EURO 2016 so has finals pedigree.

See how Slovakia stunned Spain in 2016 qualifiers
See how Slovakia stunned Spain in 2016 qualifiers

Memorable EURO goals

• Ladislav Jurkemik's mighty long-range shot past Dino Zoff during Czechoslovakia's third-place play-off against Italy in Naples at the 1980 finals remains an all-time classic, helping his side claim a bronze medal.

• Marek Hamšík's effort from a difficult angle against Russia in Lille during the 2016 group stage doubled their lead after Vladimír Weiss's opener. Slovakia ran out 2-1 victors: their only EURO finals win since independence.

• Substitute Miroslav Stoch's header past Spain's Iker Casillas in EURO 2016 qualifying in Trnava earned Slovakia a shock 2-1 triumph – and ended the holders' 36-game unbeaten run in European Qualifiers.

Watch Slovakia sing anthem at EURO 2016
Watch Slovakia sing anthem at EURO 2016

Memorable moments

• Czech-born Antonín Panenka struck the 1976 EURO-winning penalty against West Germany, but the team was full of Slovakian talent and had two Slovaks in charge: coach Václav Ježek and assistant Jozef Vengloš.

• EURO 2016 was a straight-up celebration for Slovakian fans; the side had made it to the FIFA World Cup as an independent nation in 2010, but this was their first EURO.

• Slovak-born Jozef Barmoš' clinching penalty during the gruelling 1980 shoot-out against hosts Italy in Naples. The third-place match finished 1-1, but Czechoslovakia landed the bronze medals after a 9-8 spot-kick success.

Stats

Every goal on Slovakia's road to EURO 2020
Every goal on Slovakia's road to EURO 2020

Most final tournament appearances
6: Koloman Gögh, Ladislav Jurkemik, Michal Masný, Anton Ondruš
4: Jozef Barmoš, Ján Ďurica, Marek Hamšík, Matúš Kozáčik, Ján Kozák Sr, Juraj Kucka, Peter Pekarík, Martin Škrtel, Vladimír Weiss Jr

Most final tournament goals

1: Karol Dobiáš, Ondrej Duda, Marek Hamšík, Ladislav Jurkemik, Anton Ondruš, Ladislav Pavlovič, Ján Švehlík, Vladimír Weiss

Killer stat: Hamšík has notched 11 EURO goals in total: ten in qualifying, plus that lone finals strike against Russia at EURO 2016.

Did you know?

• Anton Ondruš is the only Slovak to have scored two final-tournament goals, both in the 1976 semi-final against the Netherlands in Zagreb. He headed Czechoslovakia's opener but also netted an own goal in a 3-1 win.

• Ján Kozák played for Czechoslovakia at the 1980 UEFA European Championship and 36 years later coached Slovakia at EURO 2016.

• Centre-back Škriniar is the youngest Slovak to start at a final tournament. He was 21 years and 130 days old when introduced as a substitute against England in Saint-Étienne at EURO 2016.