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The Magnificent Seven: memorable European Championship moments

With the draw about to occur and Euro 2012 mania set to reach fever pitch, we look back on some of the abiding memories that previous competitions have provided us with.

Gascoigne’s goal and celebration against Scotland

THE MADNESS/GENIUS of Paul Gascoigne was summed up in an instant in Euro 96 against Scotland. He totally outfoxed Scottish defender Colin Hendry before volleying emphatically into the net. His subsequent celebration – mimicking his past drinking antics, which had previously been extensively covered in the British tabloids – was a tad foolish.

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Panenka’s penalty

Who could forget Panenka’s penalty to win the European Championships? People who were born after 1976, that’s who. Still though, this cheekily sublime effort to win the tournament will likely be remembered for years to come.

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Houghton’s goal

Even in the glory years of the Charlton era, few people expected Ireland to beat an England team that included players of the calibre of Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley. However, Houghton’s header, coupled with some heroic defending, ensured Jack’s Army completed a major upset.

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Van Basten’s goal in the Euro 88 final

While Zidane’s effort comes close, this goal from Marco Van Basten effort is probably the best goal ever scored in a major final. The volley, which he scored from a seemingly impossible angle, epitomised the attractive and enterprising ‘Total Football’ style of the Dutch team of that era.

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Best Game Ever: Yugoslavia v Spain

This was arguably the most incredible game ever to take place at the European Championships. Back when Spain were eminently beatable in Euro 2000, they fell behind on three separate occasions, before ultimately stealing a victory courtesy of two quick-fire injury time goals.

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Denmark win the Euros

Yes, this actually happened. Denmark, despite only qualifying as a result of the breakup of Yugoslavia, consequently went on to win the tournament. This moment, coupled with Greece’s victory in 2004, demonstrated how it is occasionally possible for largely unfancied teams to triumph at the Euros (hint, hint Ireland).

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Platini’s extra time winner against Portugal in Euro 84

France had a reputation for underachieving at major tournaments and it seemed to be the case on this occasion too, as they trailed Portugal 2-1 in extra time of the Euro 84 semi final. However, Jean-Francois Domergue equalised with six minutes remaining before Platini hit a dramatic last-minute winner. The game is remembered to this day by many older football fans, not to mention Eamon Dunphy, who somewhat dismissively described Platini as “a good player, not a great player,” prior to the game.

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Read: Counting chickens: here’s all you need to know about Ireland’s 12 potential Euro 2012 opponents>

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Paul Fennessy

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