adidas gym bag Eight things you didn’t know about Euro 96
Few will forget England’s brilliant 4 1 win over Holland or Paul Gascoigne’s goal and celebration against Scotland, but here are eight things which may have fallen off your radar.
1. It was a little light on goals
All of those warm, fuzzy memories about the tournament come in spite of the fact that it was largely dominated by defences. With 64 goals in 31 matches the goals to game ratio was just 2.06. That has been bettered in every subsequent tournament and the three that preceded it.
In the knockout stage, there were only eight goals in seven matches inside 90 minutes.
2. It was the first major tournament decided by a ‘golden goal’
The golden goal was ratified by FIFA in 1993 but took its time to filter into the upper echelons of the game. The first golden goal came in the subsequent year’s World Youth Championship, with Birmingham’s Paul Tait scoring the first one to decide a final against Carlisle in the Football League Trophy. That left it Germany’s Oliver Bierhoff to complete the list of firsts, settling the Euro 96 showpiece against the Czech Republic with his second of the game.
3. It was the European Championship’s sweet 16
Having originally started as a four team tournament and expanded to eight from 1980, the dissolution of the eastern bloc persuaded UEFA to double the number of places again. That meant 16 teams contested the trophy for the first time in England. Of those Switzerland, Turkey, Croatia and Bulgaria were appearing for the first time.
4. The referee in the final became a controversial figure
Italian official Pierluigui Pairetto may have fulfilled the old adage about good referees going unnoticed when he got the gig at Wembley. But 10 years later, while serving as his country’s vice chairman of UEFA’s referees’ committee, he was banned from football for three and a half years after being implicated in the Calciopoli scandal that exposed corruption in Serie A.
5. It caught the attention of HR departments across the land
Such was the fevered interest in the football, a growing trend of workplace absenteeism started to rear its head on the day of games and afterwards.
As a result protocols were in place by the time the World Cup two years later rolled around. The Institute of Personnel and Development advised at the time: “It’s highly probable that absenteeism will rise during the World Cup as football fans decide to take a sickie or two. Employers who were burnt during Euro 96 may react by tightening up their absence control policies.”
Meanwhile, in a pre smartphone era around 15 per cent of companies were estimated to have ringfenced windows for employees to listen or watch games during the work day, which many people were happy to take advantage of.
6. The star studded team of the tournament
A total of seven different nations were represented in the official all star XI. Winners Germany contributed three men Andreas Kopke, Matthias Sammer and Dieter Eilts but also present were handful of the era’s most compelling talents. Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly, Paolo Maldini, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, Hristo Stoichkov and Davor Suker all brought their ‘A’ games to the big stage. For Manchester United bound Karel Poborsky, inset, though, things never got this good again.
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