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The European Championships are over for another few years and we know that Cristiano Ronaldo (again) and Patrik Schick have joined the impressive list of top scorers. Who though is the company they find themmselves alongside? Here we take a walk down memory lane with a look at every single one of the European Championships top scorers.
It’s important to remember that we’re not comparing apples and apples within this article. What do we mean by this? Well, the most recent tournament saw 24 teams enter the group stages; at various points throughout the European Championships history though it has been as low as just four teams partaking. Needless to say it can influence how many goals are scored!
Who are the European Championships top scorers?
Euro 1960 – A shared golden boot
It’s fair to say the top scorers list will improve as we progress through this article with the 1960s European Championships ending with five joint top scorers; in itself, that sounds quite exciting. It wasn’t. Francois Heutte (France), Valentin Ivanov and Viktor Ponedelnik (Russia) and Milan Galic and Drazan Jerkovic (Yugoslavia) only scored 10 goals between them.
Euro 1964 – More of the same
We told you things would heat up. It’s not a lie. It just takes a little while, 1964’s golden boot was split three ways between Hungarian duo Dezso Novak and Ferenc Bene and Spain’s Chus Pereda. Again, they had only scored two goals each.
Euro 1968 – A standalone top scorer
Okay, so we might have our first standout European Championships top scorer but he too only managed to score a measly two goals. The man in question is Dragan Dzajic. His goals helped Yugoslavia to the final but his side lost out to Italy.
Euro 1972 – Great Gerd
In 1972 the legendary striker that is Gerd Muller became the first German to top score in a European Championship. His four goals saw Germany win the title with Muller grabbing a brace in the final. Two years later, he netted a further four goals as Germany won the World Cup.
Euro 1976 – More of Muller – but a different one
Germany arrived in Euro 76 aiming to make it three major trophies in a row. That never happened as Czech forward Antonin Panenka scored a * cough * Panenka to clinch the trophy in a shootout. Dieter Muller did at least make it back to back Euro top scorers though; like Gerd before him, he scored four with three of them coming in one game.
Euro 1980 – Threesy Does It
Not only did 1980 see a German (Klaus Allofs) become top scorer for the third European Championships in a row but it also saw them win their second title. Alloffs scored three goals in the tournament; they all came in a hat-trick during a crucial 3-2 group stage win over the Netherlands.
Euro 1984 – A record holder
We’ve been taking it slow on the goal tally front until this point; then, from nowhere, Michel Platini hit a whopping nine goals to fire France to glory; nobody has come close to matching his tally yet. The three time Ballon d’Or winner netted in the final but arguably, his biggest of the nine goals was his 119th minute winner against Portugal in the semi.
Euro 1988 – The most memorable goal?
Platini might have scored four more goals than Marco van Basten managed in 1988 but the Dutch hero can boast something Platini can’t; that’s the best goal ever scored in the history of the European Championships. It just so happened to be in the final when he hit that volley against the Soviet Union.
Euro 1992 – Another shared prize
After several years of having a standout top scorer, 1992 delivered a shared golden boot award with no fewer than four players tied. All of them had bagged three goals. If you were going to single out anyone of them it would be Henrik Larsen as his Denmark side caused a shock to win the tournament. It would be harsh on the other three players (Dennis Bergkamp, Tomas Brolin and Karl-Heinz Riedle) to make that call though.
Euro 1996 – “It’s coming home”
At Euro 96 the “football’s coming home” song caught on for the first time. It wasn’t as England lost out in the semi-final. What did come home though was the golden boot with the Premier League’s all time top scorer, Alan Shearer, scooping the European Championships sharpest shooter award. He hit an impressive five goals in as many games.
Euro 2000 – A tie but one man has the edge
Officially, there were joint top scorers at Euro 2000 with Dutchman Patrick Kluivert and Yugoslavia striker Savo Milosevic both hitting five goals. Three of Kluivert’s goals came in a crushing quarter-final win over Milosevic’s side but, with the Netherlands advancing a round further, it means the now Olimpija Ljubljana manager achieved his five goals in one less game (four).
Euro 2004 – A year remembered for the Greeks
If someone asked you what you remember from Euro 2004 it’s highly plausible that you recall Greece boring their way to what was quite a remarkable achievement as they beat Portugal in the final. The forgotten story from that year though is the Czech Republic’s run to the semi-final. Milan Baros was the man who scored their goals – five of them to be precise. He netted in all of their games but their narrow semi-final loss to the eventual winners.
Euro 2008 – The splendid Spanish
The European Championships of 2008 was when Spain established themselves as the untouchables of world football. They won every group game where eventual top scorer David Villa scored all four of his goals, before going on to lift the trophy. In order to do so they had to overcome Germany in the final, Russia before that and Italy in the quarter-finals. That quarter-final match needed penalties; it was the only game Spain didn’t win inside 90 minutes.
Euro 2012 – Six top scorers
Cast your mind back to our first entry on this list, which is where four players shared the golden boot in 1960. Well, never before have so many players tied for the top scorers spot than in Euro 2012. The tournament once again saw Spain lift the trophy and they boasted one of the six scorers in Fernando Torres. Five other nations had a share of the golden boot honour as well though. Where do we start? Well, Alan Dzagoev bagged three goals in as many games for Russia whilst Mario Mandzukic managed the same for Croatia. Mario Gomez, Cristiano Ronaldo and the aforementioned Torres all need a couple more games to hit their three goals whilst the final name on the list of six was Italy’s Mario Balotelli – he appeared in six matches averaging one in every two.
Euro 2016 – Griezmann goals
In 2016 we went back to having a sole winner of the golden boot. He didn’t deserve to share the accolade either because Antoine Griezmann lit the tournament up for eventual runners up, France. Mr CR7 took most of the headlines after his emotional injury in the final saw him take up the role of cheerleader but Griezmann was sensational as he also collected the award for best player. The now Barca attacker scored just once in the group stages but then netted in every knockout tie up until the final where the France team blanked over 120 minutes of action.
Euro 2020 – A year late but worth the wait
Euro 2020’s golden boot was another where a standout name couldn’t be found; all of England began to believe upon reaching the competition final but Harry Kane couldn’t replicate his success at World Cup 2018.
Surprisingly, both Golden Boot contenders were eliminated from the tournament before the very latter stages. Ronaldo’s Portugal were eliminated in the round of 16 with Shick’s Czech Republic waving goodbye a round later. Regardless, for the duo to bag five goals was mighty impressive with great strikes on the list for both of them. The standout for Ronaldo was the counter attacking goal he netted against Germany as he sprinted the length of the pitch. For Schick, it was the strike from near halfway against Scotland. Both players now belong to the history books.
The leading Euros scorer of all time
We have officially reached the end of our run through of the European Championships top scorers but we can’t talk about the goal machines of Euros history without giving a quick nod to the one who top the all time scoring charts. You won’t be surprised to learn that he has just grabbed his second golden boot. He’s always hard to ignore but when he’s scored 14 goals across five different tournaments the recognition is definitely deserved. Who is it? Cristiano Ronaldo, of course.