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Trezeguet recalls EURO 2000 golden goal

David Trezeguet looks back to the dying moments of the EURO 2000 final when three substitutes combined to realise France's dream – and destroy Italy's.

David Trezeguet celebrates his golden goal in the UEFA EURO 2000 final
David Trezeguet celebrates his golden goal in the UEFA EURO 2000 final

In the UEFA EURO 2000 final, David Trezeguet struck the most golden of goals, pirouetting on the penalty spot and dispatching a half-volley high into the roof of the net .

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This was the short-lived era of the golden goal, the next-goal-wins rule taken from playgrounds and transposed on to the biggest stage, so in an instant the 22-year-old had clinched the title for France, realising the dream of adding to their FIFA World Cup win two years earlier.

Watch Trezeguet’s dramatic EURO 2000 winner

Yet it so nearly didn’t happen. With 15 minutes remaining and trailing to Marco Delvecchio’s strike, Les Bleus were running out of ideas, demoralised by Italy’s unyielding defence. Looking to his bench Roger Lemerre, sporting his familiar baggy tracksuit, asked Trezeguet to remove his. It was now or never.

Trezeguet had come into the tournament in fine form, scoring 22 goals to propel Monaco to the French title. The national team had an embarrassment of attacking riches, with Thierry Henry chief among them, but Trezeguet always knew he had a role to play.

We got into the habit of finishing matches with four, five or six forwards. You had to find your spot, everybody had to stay in their position – that was it. We felt that the coach was counting on us, and his confidence reassured us: he knew we would play the main roles from that moment on, and so did our team-mates. It meant it was much easier for us to get subbed in.

Trezeguet joined fellow substitute Sylvain Wiltord on the pitch and, three minutes into added time, the pair combined to deny Italy at the death.

Highlights: Best goals of EURO 2000

We had to equalise at all costs. Our team mentality was generally to use the ball, to be available for each other, but sometimes you have to find solutions. We may have ended up playing like an English team, but it helped us equalise. A long ball from Fabien [Barthez], I got a touch with my head and Sylvain scored. There wasn’t much build-up, it wasn’t pretty, but we had forced extra time.

By now Robert Pirès had also been introduced and France effectively had a four-man front line, with Zinédine Zidane playing just behind. Heading into extra time, Lamerre had a choice to make: stick or twist?

[The equaliser] was a blow to Italian morale; while we felt great, fresh and capable of defeating them. We had to get our shape back but we wanted to clinch it. That philosophy of attacking, of going forward, of scoring, that mentality was specific to that generation. When your team lines up with four or five forwards, it means that you want to get the job done.

Reward arrived in the 103rd minute when Demetrio Albertini miscontrolled a pass out from the back and Pirès was onto it in a flash.

"Toldo went one way, the ball went the other"
"Toldo went one way, the ball went the other"Icon Sport via Getty Images

Robert was fresh, he made things happen. He went all the way to the byline and put a cross in – bear in mind that after going at that speed, it’s not easy to put a cross in. I tried to make myself as available as possible and there’s not much more to say. [Francesco] Toldo went one way, the ball went the other. The absolute madness of it, the idea to go all-out attack … it was a superb goal.

Trezeguet tore away in a state of delirium, an image of ecstasy seared onto the public consciousness across the globe. Including, of course, in the youngster’s new home: Italy. Trezeguet had signed for Juventus just before the finals. Gulp.

You know Italians and the passion they have for football: the fans weren’t doing me any favours. It was the same with my team-mates – half the Italy side played for Juve! They always kept their distance. Yet time went by and I spent ten years at the club, scoring a record number of goals [for a non-Italian] along the way. Italy got their revenge in 2006 [in the World Cup final], so they were happy in the end.

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