Following the realignment of UEFA's youth competitions in 1976, the Spanish Under-21 team was formed. Spain are the current European champions of the category, having won both the 2011 and 2013 European Championship. The team has a fantastic record – competition winners four times and runners-up twice. Only Italy has won the competition more often than Spain.
Since the under-21 competition rules insist that players must be 21 or under at the start of a two year competition, technically it is an U-23 competition. For this reason, Spain's brief record in the preceding U-23 competitions is also shown. Actually, Spain played only three competitive U-23 matches. The first was in the "Under-23 Challenge", which they lost. The next two were in a two-team qualification "group" for the 1972 competition – facing the Soviet Union team, they lost 2–1 at home then drew 1–1 away and failed to qualify. Spain did not enter a team in the other two U-23 competitions, but have been ever present in under-21 competitions.
Spain's youth development programs has been challenging the South American dominance in the FIFA U-17 World Championship and the FIFA U-20 World Cup. In fact, 20 of the Spanish 23-man squad that won the Euro 2008 came through the ranks of the youth teams; most of them had won titles at the youth level as well.