UEFA European Under-21 Championship

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UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Cup of the UEFA Under 21 Championship.jpg
Winners Cup of the UEFA Under 21 Championship
Founded 1978
Region Europe (UEFA)
Number of teams 53 (qualifiers)
8 (finals)
Current champions  Sweden (1st title)
Most successful team(s)  Italy (5 titles)
2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship

The UEFA European Under-21 Championship (also known as the UEFA Euro U-21s) is a football competition organised by the sport's European governing body, UEFA. It is held every two years. The competition has existed in its current form since 1978. It was preceded by the Under 23 Challenge Cup which ran from 1967 to 1970. A true Under 23 championship was then formed, starting in 1972.

The age limit was reduced to 21 for the 1978 championship and it has remained so since. To be eligible for the campaign ending in 2015, players need to be born in or after 1992. Many can be actually 23 years old by the time the finals tournament takes place; however, when the qualification process began (late 2013) all players would have been 21 or under.

Under-21 matches are typically played on the day before senior internationals and where possible, the same qualifying groups and fixtures were played out. This was not true for the shortened 2006-2007 Championship.

This tournament serves as qualifier for the Summer Olympics. It has been considered a stepping stone toward the senior team. Players such as 2014 World Cup winner Mesut Özil, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Luís Figo, Petr Čech, 2010 World Cup winner Iker Casillas, 2006 World Cup winners Francesco Totti, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Alberto Gilardino and Andrea Pirlo, and Euro 2004 winner Georgios Karagounis began their international careers in the youth teams.

Sweden are the reigning champions, defeating Portugal in the 2015 final, on penalties. The finals of the 2015 competition were hosted by Czech Republic.

Competition structure[edit]

Up to and including the 1992 competition, all entrants were divided into eight qualification groups, the eight winners of which formed the quarter-finals lineup. The remaining fixtures were played out on a two-legged, home and away basis to determine the eventual winner.

For the 1994 competition, one of the semi-finalists, France, was chosen as a host for the (single-legged) semi-finals, 3rd place playoff and final. Similarly, Spain was chosen to host the last four matches in 1996.

For 1998, nine qualification groups were used, as participation had reached 46, nearly double the 24 entrants in 1976. The top seven group winners qualified automatically for the finals, whilst the eighth- and ninth-best qualifiers, Greece and England, played-off for the final spot. The remaining matches, from the quarter-finals onward, were held in Romania, one of the eight qualifiers.

The 2000 competition also had nine groups, but the nine winners and seven runners-up went into a two-legged playoff to decide the eight qualifiers. From those, Slovakia was chosen as host. For the first time, the familiar finals group stage was employed, with the two winners contesting a final, and two runners-up contesting the 3rd-place playoff. The structure in 2002 was identical, except for the introduction of a semi-finals round after the finals group stage. Switzerland hosted the 2002 finals.

In 2004, ten qualification groups were used, with the group winners and six best runners-up going into the playoff. Germany was host that year. For 2006, the top two teams of eight large qualification groups provided the 16 teams for the playoffs, held in November 2005. Portugal hosted the finals.

Then followed the switch to odd years. The change was made because the senior teams of many nations often chose to promote players from their under-21s team as their own qualification campaign intensified. Staggering the tournaments allowed players more time to develop in the under-21 team rather than get promoted too early and end up becoming reserves for the seniors.

The 2007 competition actually began before the 2006 finals, with a qualification round to eliminate eight of the lowest-ranked nations. For the first time, the host (Netherlands) was chosen ahead of the qualification section. As hosts, Netherlands qualified automatically. Coincidentally, the Dutch team had won the 2006 competition - the holders would normally have gone through the qualification stage. The other nations were all drawn into fourteen three-team groups. The 14 group winners were paired in double-leg play-off to decide the seven qualifiers alongside the hosts.

The 2015 finals will be the last eight-team finals as it will be expanded to twelve teams starting from 2017.[1]

Predecessor tournaments[edit]

Under-23 Challenge Cup winners[edit]

This was competed for on a basis similar to a boxing title belt. The holders played a randomly[clarification needed] chosen opponent for the championship. This format was soon dropped in favour of one more familiar to the sport of football.

Date Winners Runners-up Venue
June 1967  Bulgaria  East Germany Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
September 1967  Bulgaria  Finland Burgas, Bulgaria
November 1967  Bulgaria  Czechoslovakia Pleven, Bulgaria
April 1968  Bulgaria  Netherlands Sofia, Bulgaria
October 1968  Yugoslavia  Bulgaria Rousse, Bulgaria
June 1969  Yugoslavia  Spain Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
November 1969  Yugoslavia  Sweden Zrenjanin, Yugoslavia
March 1970  Yugoslavia  Greece Athens, Greece

Under-23 champions[edit]

Held only three times before it was relabelled by UEFA.

Year Host Winner Score Runner-up
1972 N/A
Czechoslovakia
2–2 / 3–1
5–3 on aggregate

Soviet Union
1974 N/A
Hungary
2–3 / 4–0
6–3 on aggregate

East Germany
1976 N/A
Soviet Union
1–1 / 2–1
3–2 on aggregate

Hungary

Results[edit]

Year Host Winner Score Runner-up
1978 N/A
Yugoslavia
1–0 / 4–4
5–4 on aggregate

East Germany
1980 N/A
Soviet Union
0–0 / 1–0
1–0 on aggregate

East Germany
1982 N/A
England
3–1 / 2–3
5–4 on aggregate

West Germany
1984 N/A
England
1–0 / 2–0
3–0 on aggregate

Spain
1986 N/A
Spain
1–2 / 2–1
3–3 on aggregate, (3–0) ps

Italy
1988 N/A
France
0–0 / 3–0
3–0 on aggregate

Greece
1990 N/A
Soviet Union
4–2 / 3–1
7–3 on aggregate

Yugoslavia
1992 N/A
Italy
2–0 / 0–1
2–1 on aggregate

Sweden
1994  France
Italy
1–0
aet

Portugal
1996  Spain
Italy
1–1
(4–2) ps

Spain
1998  Romania
Spain
1–0
Greece
2000  Slovakia
Italy
2–1
Czech Republic
2002   Switzerland
Czech Republic
0–0
(3–1) ps

France
2004  Germany
Italy
3–0
Serbia and Montenegro
2006  Portugal
Netherlands
3–0
Ukraine
2007  Netherlands
Netherlands
4–1
Serbia
2009  Sweden
Germany
4–0
England
2011  Denmark
Spain
2–0
Switzerland
2013  Israel
Spain
4–2
Italy
2015  Czech Republic
Sweden
0–0
(4–3) ps

Portugal
2017  Poland

Winners and Runners-up[edit]

Team Titles Runners-up
 Italy 5 (1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004) 2 (1986, 2013)
 Spain 4 (1986, 1998, 2011, 2013) 2 (1984, 1996)
 England 2 (1982, 1984) 1 (2009)
 Netherlands 2 (2006, 2007)
 Soviet Union 2 (1980, 1990)
 East Germany /  Germany 1 (2009) 3 (1978, 1980, 1982)
 Yugoslavia 1 (1978) 1 (1990)
 France 1 (1988) 1 (2002)
 Czech Republic 1 (2002) 1 (2000)
 Sweden 1 (2015) 1 (1992)
 Serbia and Montenegro /  Serbia 2 (2004, 2007)
 Greece 2 (1988, 1998)
 Portugal 2 (1994, 2015)
 Ukraine 1 (2006)
  Switzerland 1 (2011)

Awards[edit]

Golden Player[edit]

The Golden Player award is awarded to the player who plays the most outstanding football during the tournament.

European Championship Golden Player Ref(s)
1978 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Vahid Halilhodžić [2]
1980 Soviet Union Anatoliy Demyanenko [3]
1982 Germany Rudi Völler [4]
1984 England Mark Hateley [5]
1986 Spain Manuel Sanchis [6]
1988 France Laurent Blanc [7]
1990 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Davor Šuker [8]
1992 Italy Renato Buso [9]
1994 France Portugal Luís Figo [10]
1996 Spain Italy Fabio Cannavaro [11]
1998 Romania Spain Francesc Arnau [12]
2000 Slovakia Italy Andrea Pirlo [13]
2002 Switzerland Czech Republic Petr Čech [14]
2004 Germany Italy Alberto Gilardino [15]
2006 Portugal Netherlands Klaas-Jan Huntelaar [16]
2007 Netherlands Netherlands Royston Drenthe [17]
2009 Sweden Sweden Marcus Berg [18]
2011 Denmark Spain Juan Mata [19]
2013 Israel Spain Thiago Alcântara [20]
2015 Czech Republic Portugal William Carvalho [21]

Golden Boot[edit]

The UEFA European Under-21 Championship adidas Golden Boot award will be handed to the player who scores the most goals during the tournament. Since the 2013 tournament, those who finish as runners-up in the vote receive the Silver Boot and Bronze Boot awards as the second and third top goalscorer players in the tournament respectively.

Tournament Golden Boot Goals Silver Boot Goals Bronze Boot Goals Ref(s)
2000 Slovakia Italy Andrea Pirlo 3         [22]
2002 Switzerland Italy Massimo Maccarone 3 [22]
2004 Germany Italy Alberto Gilardino 4 [22]
2006 Portugal Netherlands Klaas-Jan Huntelaar 4 [22]
2007 Netherlands Netherlands Maceo Rigters 4 [22]
2009 Sweden Sweden Marcus Berg 7 [22]
2011 Denmark Spain Adrián López 5 [22]
2013 Israel Spain Álvaro Morata 4 Spain Thiago Alcântara 3 Spain Isco 3 [22]
2015 Czech Republic Czech Republic Jan Kliment 3 Germany Kevin Volland 2 Sweden John Guidetti 2 [23]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "U21 final tournament expanding to 12 teams". UEFA.com. 24 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "1978: Vahid Halilhodžić". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1978. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "1980: Anatoliy Demyanenko". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1980. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "1982: Rudi Völler". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1982. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "1984: Mark Hateley". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1984. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "1986: Manuel Sanchís". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 2 June 1986. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "1988: Laurent Blanc". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1988. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "1990: Davor Šuker". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1990. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "1992: Renato Buso". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1992. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "1994: Luís Figo". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1994. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "1996: Fabio Cannavaro". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1996. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "1998: Francesc Arnau". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1998. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "2000: Andrea Pirlo". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 July 2000. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "2002: Petr Čech". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "2004: Alberto Gilardino". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  16. ^ "2006: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  17. ^ "2007: Royston Drenthe". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "2009: Marcus Berg". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  19. ^ "2009: Juan Mata". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  20. ^ "2013: Thiago Alcântara". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  21. ^ "William named U21 EURO player of the tournament". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h "Previous top scorers". UEFA.com. 30 June 2013. 
  23. ^ "Czech striker Kliment wins Golden Boot award". UEFA.com. 30 June 2015.