Ten iconic goals at the European Championship, from Van Basten’s brilliance to cheeky Welbeck

John Nicholson
England striker Danny Welbeck scores against Sweden at Euro 2012
Danny Welbeck: Euros icon

It is not often Danny Welbeck can be grouped in with Marco van Basten, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo but that is the magic of the Euros.


Marco van Basten vs Soviet Union at Euro 1988
Yes, it’s the classic, earth-shattering volley. Everyone remembers this, it’s so spectacular. Possibly the best goal of all time, correctly defined as a volley, he doesn’t let it drop, but opts to leather it from an acute angle into the top corner. No-one has seen it done again. When I first saw it. I could barely believe he’d done it, it seemed superhuman.

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Antonin Panenka vs West Germany, Euro 1976
Panenka was playing for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship final against West Germany. After extra time it was 2-2. The first seven kicks were converted, until West Germany’s fourth when Uli Hoeness hit his shot over the bar. With the score 4-3, Panenka took the fifth Czechoslovakian penalty to win the match. German goalkeeper Sepp Maier dived to his left and Panenka gently chipped the ball into the middle of the net. All future similar goals were but an imitation. This shook football and continues to be inspirational.


Patrik Schick vs Scotland, Euro 2020
It briefly made Schick hot property which some might say he never quite subsequently justified. He launched the ball from the halfway line, over the head of David Marshall and into the net.


Xherdan Shaqiri v Poland, Euro 2016
He could score some fantastic goals when inclined and was a waste of space when he wasn’t. Resembling a side of pork, the ball flicks up and, like a flying pig, he performs an exquisite bicycle kick. Not just a lucky shinner, he properly leathers the ball into the net.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Italy Euro 2004
The sort of ‘how did he do that?’ goal only Zlatan could do. There’s a melee around the six-yard box. The ball bounces loose and Zlatan somehow manages to twist his leg 180 degrees to kick the ball over his shoulder and into the net. Even slowed down, it seems impossible. But it was Zlatan; the normal rules didn’t apply.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs France, Euro 2012
More brilliance from the Swede. A cross is swept into the net on the volley and with perfect timing. Unstoppable. And he goes absolutely ballistic as if he’s even impressed by himself, which he almost certainly was.


Paul Gascoigne v Scotland, Euro 1996
Yes, THAT goal. We’ve all seen it a hundred times but it is a moment of playground uninhibited Gascoigne work that we’d never seen before or again after. The audacity and fearlessness to flick the ball over the defender’s head and slot it home required real courage and skill. The goal and subsequent Dentist’s Chair celebrations somehow became emblematic of the Britpop years. It was both the making and destruction of Gazza.

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Tomas Brolin vs England, Euro 1992
For a brief moment Brolin was a wanted man, signed for Leeds and, like so many, bloated up on the local diet and was rubbish. He almost single-handedly sunk England and we did not like that. Here he positively scuttles past the defence and latches on to a through ball, hitting it first time – toe pokes it really – into the net to beat England, who it turned out ‘knocked it’ despite being implored to ‘not knock it’. Made a sympathetic star of Graham Taylor – not so much Lawrie McMenemy and Phil Neal.


Cristiano Ronaldo v Wales, Euro 2016
This was one of those great Ronaldo goals where he hangs in the air, a whole head above everyone else to power it in. He seems to be on a step ladder just waiting for the ball to arrive, has time to take out and light a fag before scoring and doing that awful celebration. It’s Wales, mate, Wales.


Mario Balotelli vs Germany, Euro 2012
Mario destroyed the Germans in this game, scored one with his head and a second with a piledriver from the edge of the box. When not being a bit of a d*ck and wearing silly hats, the boy could really turn it on. Here he runs onto a long ball from his own half, in a one on one, takes it to the edge of the box and, still with a lot to do, rifles it into the top corner.


Danny Welbeck vs Sweden, Euro 2012
Before being injured all the time, Welbeck played really well for England. In an exciting game they won 3-2, Welbeck scored the winner with a crafty and deft backheel which was so crafty and deft that it was exactly the sort of goal that England never usually scored. Much good that it did us.