France may have home advantage at UEFA EURO 2016 – and be just three games from lifting the trophy – but the role of hosts has not always been significant. Though only three nations have triumphed on home soil previously – including, most recently, Les Bleus in 1984 – none have ever exited at the last-eight stage. No shortage of encouragement for France, then.
1964 UEFA European Championship – Spain
With the USSR defending the title they won in France four years before, nearly 80,000 fans turned out at the Santiago Bernabéu to see Spain wrest the crown from the holders. José Villalonga's side were roared on by a vociferous home support and claimed Spain's first major honour courtesy of Marcelino's 84th-minute header.
It was a feat that sparked jubilation in the stands and across the country, with talismanic midfielder Luis Suárez attributing the triumph to a great team ethic as well as home comforts. "Other Spain sides I played in were much better than the one in 1964, yet we never managed to achieve anything," he said.
"We had great support from the Spanish people. The fans identified with us, maybe because we were a very young team fighting to achieve something. That helped us a lot, it brought a lot of calm to the team, and they actually eased the pressure on us."
1968 UEFA European Championship – Italy
Holders Spain lost to England in the quarter-finals, opening the door for Italy to follow the Spaniards' lead by landing the Henri Delaunay Cup as tournament hosts. The Azzurri required a little more good fortune than Spain, though, with a coin toss accounting for the USSR in their drawn Naples semi-final. It was a unique occasion that goalkeeper Dino Zoff recalled fondly. "It was special for me because I was playing for Napoli at the time," he said. "The atmosphere was incredible as the San Paolo was completely sold out."
Italy came up against a resilient Yugoslavia in the final and had Angelo Domenghini to thank for earning a replay. Ferruccio Valcareggi's charges triumphed at the second time of asking in Rome and, having won the FIFA World Cup in 1934, became the first side to pick up both major international prizes in front of their own fans.
1984 European Championship – France
Twenty years after Spain had become the first host team to be crowned European champions, France replicated the feat. Captain Michel Platini was the star for Les Bleus, scoring his ninth goal of those finals – more than any other side struck at EURO '84, let alone player – just before the hour in the Parc des Princes showpiece against Spain.
"It was the first official title won by France in any team sport, so it was a great moment for French football and for French sport in general," said the former attacking midfielder. "France had a very good tournament. We were superior to everybody and expressed ourselves on the pitch."
1960: France (fourth)
1964: Spain (winners)
1968: Italy (winners)
1972: Belgium (third)
1976: Yugoslavia (fourth)
1980: Belgium (runners-up)
1988: West Germany (semi-finals)
1992: Sweden (semi-finals)
1996: England (semi-finals)
2000: Belgium (group stage), Netherlands (semi-finals)
2004: Portugal (runners-up)
2008: Austria (group stage), Switzerland (group stage)
2012: Poland (group stage), Ukraine (group stage)
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