The official website for European football

Spain savour home comforts

Spain savour home comforts
The Spanish players and coach celebrate winning the tournament ©Getty Images

Spain combined home advantage and spirited teamwork to win their first major trophy in 1964, as the European Nations' Cup continued to grow.

The format remained the same, with a qualifying competition followed by a four-team final tournament, but the buzz surrounding the inaugural edition meant the number of entrants rose from 17 to 29, with Italy and England among the hopefuls this time.

England fell 6-3 on aggregate to France in Alf Ramsey's first competitive outing as manager, however they were at least able to compete on the pitch. In an echo of the diplomatic wrangling from 1960, Greece objected to facing Albania, with whom they were officially at war, and the tie was awarded to their opponents.

Albania failed to grasp this opportunity as they were beaten 4-1 on aggregate by Denmark in the last 16. The Danes then sealed their place in the final tournament by seeing off surprise quarter-finalists Luxembourg after a play-off. In-form striker Ole Madsen fired six goals in Denmark's three matches against the Grand Duchy, who had earlier defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in Rotterdam; their last away win against European opposition until 1995.

Conquerors of a France team on the wane, Hungary also advanced to the semi-finals, where they were joined by Spain and holders the USSR. Spain looked particularly impressive after dispatching the Republic of Ireland 5-1 and 2-0 in the previous round, and they had been chosen to host the tournament's conclusion.

That was conditional on them accepting Soviet participation; in 1960 Spain had been disqualified after General Franco had refused his side permission to play the USSR. Four years on political disagreements were happily forgotten as football took centre stage.

The USSR were hungry to defend their title as they swept past Denmark 3-0 in Barcelona, with a goal apiece for 1960 veterans Valentin Ivanov and Victor Ponedelnik.

In the other semi-final, Spain required an extra-time winner from Real Madrid CF forward Amancio to defeat Hungary 2-1, but with midfielder Luis Suárez pulling the strings they went into the final with confidence high. Already a European champion with FC Internazionale Milano, Suárez added top-level experience to the youthful Spain side.

With just six minutes gone at a raucous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the gifted No10 provided the cross for Jesús Pereda to open the scoring. Galimzian Khusainov quickly responded for the USSR, but Marcelino headed a memorable winner six minutes from time.

"Other Spanish national teams I played in were much better than that 1964 side but we never achieved anything," Suárez said. "That one was a team rather than a selection of top players."

Last updated: 29/02/16 13.55CET




The final - 21/06/1964

Did you know?

New fact
1 of 10

History maker

1 of 1

Team of the Tournament


Also in this year

FC Internazionale Milano 1964

European Cup winners: FC Internazionale Milano (3-1 v Real Madrid CF)

European Footballer of the Year: Denis Law (Manchester United FC)

Eurovision Song Contest winner: Gigliola Cinquetti (Italy) singing Non ho l'età

Martin Luther King 1964

Nobel Peace Prize: Martin Luther King (civil rights campaigner, United States)

Men's Olympic 100m champion: Bob Hayes (United States) running 10.0 seconds

Formula 1 world champion: John Surtees (United Kingdom), driving a Ferrari

Oscar for Best Picture: My Fair Lady

The Beatles (1964)

Key events
1 February – I Want to Hold Your Hand becomes the Beatles' first US No1

12 June – Nelson Mandela given life sentence in South Africa for various charges

27 August – Mary Poppins premieres in Los Angeles. The film goes on to win five Academy Awards and become Walt Disney's then biggest moneyspinner

Michael Laudrup (Denmark)

Rudi Garcia
Manolo Jiménez
Markku Kanerva
Jürgen Klinsmann
Luboš Kubík
Marius Lăcătuş
Michael Laudrup
Oleh Protasov
Marco van Basten
Gianluca Vialli