Having been chosen as the best player in Germany in 1993, his biggest achievement came in 1996, winning the European Championship and playing a pivotal role in Germany's campaign (he saved Gareth Southgate's penalty kick and ensured Germany reached the final). Due to these achievements he was voted FIFA goalkeeper of the year.
Köpke was also Germany's first-choice goalkeeper during their 1998 FIFA World Cup campaign, which ended in a 3–0 loss to Croatia in the quarter finals. Having already made his decision to retire at the end of the World Cup prior to the tournament, Köpke was true to his word; his retirement paved the way for another great German keeper, Oliver Kahn. In total, Köpke played 59 matches for his country.