When you think of England at the European Championship, one word springs to mind. Penalties.
Gareth Southgate, David Beckham, Darius Vassell, Ashley Young, Ashley Cole, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka have all missed crucial spot kicks over the years as England were knocked out of various tournaments in the cruellest fashion.
England have been involved in five penalty shootouts in the tournament’s history, and they have only triumphed on one occasion as Spain were sent home at Wembley in Euro 1996.
They have lost four times and it’s not just the final of Euro 2020 where England missed a golden opportunity.
The defeat to Germany on home soil in 1996 and the quarter-final shootout defeat to Portugal eight years later represented fantastic opportunities for England to go on and lift their first trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
Here is our look back on a collection near misses, dentist chairs, early exits, thunderclaps, metatarsals and more as England’s search for their first Euros triumph continues…
England headed to Italy in 1968 as the reigning world champions, but it was their first foray into the Euros after not entering in 1960 and not qualifying four years later.
The results of the British Home Championship over a two year period saw England progress from a qualifying group containing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
That set up a two-legged quarter final play-off against Spain, where England won home and away to progress to the finals of the tournament, which involved just four teams.
England faced Yugoslavia where Dragan Dzajic’s late goal eliminated Alf Ramsey’s side in Florence. Yugoslavia went on to lose to hosts Italy in the final, whereas England finished third after goals from Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst helped them beat Soviet Union 2-0 in the third place play-off.
After not qualifying for the finals in 1972 or 1976, Ron Greenwood successfully led England to qualification for Euro 1980, which took place in Italy again.
The finals involved two groups of four, with the winners of each group going through to the final and the runners-up competing in a play-off for third place.
The opening game in Turin saw England take on Belgium, where Jan Ceulemans cancelled out Ray Wilkins’ goal to earn both sides a point.
That set up a crucial tussle with Italy, again in Turin, where Marco Tardelli struck the only goal to eliminate England and set up a crucial clash with Belgium.
It would be Belgium who would progress to the final where they lost to West Germany, while England did manage to end their tournament on a high by beating Spain 2-1, with Trever Brooking and Tony Woodcock on the scoresheet.
England were absent from the 1984 tournament but Bobby Robson ensured that England were in Germany for Euro 1988 after an unbeaten qualifying campaign.
The Three Lions needed to finish in the top two of their group to progress to the semi-finals, but they got off to a disastrous start as Ray Houghton’s goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland in Stuttgart.
They headed to Dusseldorf to face a formidable Netherlands outfit knowing that they needed at least a point to keep their Euros bid alive.
England had their chances, hitting the woodwork twice in the first half through Gary Lineker and Glenn Hoddle, but they failed to take the lead that they deserved.
23-year-old Milan striker Marco van Basten, who had been a substitute in his side’s surprise defeat to Soviet Union, made Robson’s men pay on the stroke of half-time with an exceptional piece of skill to bamboozle Tony Adams and give the Netherlands the lead.
Bryan Robson equalised for England after the break but van Basten scored twice more to complete his hat-trick and knock England out after two games.
England’s miserable tournament was completed as they lost 3-1 to the Soviet Union in their final game, while Netherlands went on to win the tournament with van Basten scoring one of the great Euros goals in the final.
Euro 1992 will always be remembered for Denmark’s incredible victory against the odds.
For England, it was certainly less memorable as they failed to make it out of the group stage for their third Euros in a row.
England faced Denmark in their first game of the tournament and were expected to win, but Denmark showed a glimpse of what was to come as they were the better side in the goalless encounter.
Graham Taylor’s side were better against France in their next game, but it again finished goalless as England were denied a winner when Stuart Pearce’s thunderous long-range effort came back off the crossbar.
Two points from two games left England needing to beat hosts Sweden in their final group game to progress to the semi-finals, and David Platt’s early strike gave England the perfect start.
But another ill-fated campaign was confirmed as Jan Eriksson headed Sweden level in the second-half before Tomas Brolin’s late goal sent Sweden through at the expense of both England and France.
30 years on from the most famous day in English footballing history, the nation was gripped during the summer of 1996 as Terry Venables was the man tasked with bringing football home.
The curtain-raiser of Euro 1996 against Switzerland was underwhelming as Alan Shearer’s first-half strike was cancelled out by a late penalty from Kubilay Turkyilmaz.
Onto Scotland in the next game, and it was Shearer again on the scoresheet to give England a second-half lead.
David Seaman saved a Gary McAllister penalty in the 77th minute before Paul Gascoigne scored one of the great England goals as he lifted the ball over Colin Hendry and rifled a volley past Andy Goram to spark jubilant scenes and the famous dentist chair celebration.
England needed a point against the Netherlands to progress to the quarter-finals and they delivered a sensational performance as Shearer and Teddy Sheringham bagged a brace apiece to guide England to a 4-1 victory.
After edging past Spain via a penalty shootout, England faced Germany for a place in the final.
The game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes as Stefan Kuntz cancelled out Shearer’s early header, before a frantic extra-time period saw Gascoigne narrowly fail to connect with a Shearer cross from close range, Darren Anderton’s effort rebounding off the post and Germany having a winner ruled out for a push from a corner.
After 10 successful penalties, Gareth Southgate saw his effort saved by Andreas Kopke to allow Andreas Moller to thunder home the winning penalty to break English hearts.
Four years later England headed to Belgium and the Netherlands full of optimism under the stewardship of the popular Kevin Keegan.
They were handed a tough group, however, as they faced Romania, who England lost to at the World Cup two years earlier, the old enemy Germany and a much-fancied Portugal.
It was the latter who provided England’s first test, and Keegan’s men got off to a dream start as Paul Scholes and Steve McManaman helped the Three Lions take a 2-0 lead inside 18 minutes.
But Portugal, inspired by the influential Luis Figo, who would go on to win the Ballon d’Or later in the year, hit back to level matters before half-time. Nuno Gomes scored the winner on the hour and England had thrown away the opportunity to put a marker down for the tournament.
England then defeated Germany with Shearer scoring the only goal in Charleroi, which set up a crucial clash with Romania, where England would just require a point to progress.
Despite falling behind early on, England took a 2-1 lead through Shearer and Michael Owen to put themselves in prime position for a quarter-final spot.
Dorinel Munteanu levelled the score at 2-2, yet England were heading through until the 89th minute when Phil Neville clumsily gave away a late penalty.
Up stepped Ioan Ganea to slot home and send Romania through and England out of the tournament.
Just like in 1996, this was an opportunity missed for England, as Greece were the shock winners of Euro 2004 in Portugal.
Sven Goran Eriksson had players such as Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Michael Owen at his disposal and England were rightly amongst the favourites.
It was the golden generation, yet they still needed an extra sprinkling of magic in the final third.
Step forward 18-year-old Wayne Rooney, who would terrorise defences at the tournament before injury cruelly ended his and England’s chances of glory.
Rooney was incredible against France in the opening game as England snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the closing stages.
He picked up his first two tournament goals against Switzerland four days later, before scoring twice more against Croatia as England booked a quarter-final tie with hosts Portugal.
Owen gave England a third minute lead and they were dominant until the 26th minute when Rooney suffered a metatarsal injury which ended his campaign prematurely.
England looked to hold onto what they had but Tottenham flop Helder Postiga equalised with seven minutes to go to send the match into extra game.
Rui Costa’s stunning effort gave Portugal the lead in the 110th minute, only for Frank Lampard to equalise five minutes later to send the game to penalties.
David Beckham and Darius Vassell missed for England, before the gloveless ‘keeper Ricardo stepped up to score the winning penalty for Portugal, who would go on to lose to Greece in the final.
England failed to qualify for the Euros in 2008 but they made it to Poland and Ukraine in 2012 under Roy Hodgson, who had taken over from Fabio Capello just weeks before the tournament.
After a poor showing at the 2010 World Cup, expectation was lower than usual amongst England fans, particularly as the golden generation was starting to dissemble.
Though not convincing, England did manage to top a group consisting of France, co-hosts Ukraine and a bogey side in Sweden.
They drew with France in Donetsk, came from 2-1 down to beat Sweden 3-2 and defeated Ukraine 1-0 to book a quarter-final with Italy.
Hodgson had the opportunity to lead England to their first semi-final since 1996 but they set up very defensively against Italy, who had 64% of the ball with Andrea Pirlo producing a masterclass in midfield.
England held out for 120 minutes to get to penalties but they were unable to buck the trend of shootout defeats as they headed home at the quarter-final stage.
An exit in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup meant that Roy Hodgson was in the last chance saloon heading to Euro 2016 in France.
England played well in their opener against Russia, with Eric Dier’s free-kick giving the Three Lions a deserved lead, but they sat back and were pegged back in injury time courtesy of Vasiliy Berezutski’s header.
It was crisis time at half-time against Wales, however, after Gareth Bale’s long-range free-kick squirmed past Joe Hart to give Wales a shock 1-0 lead.
Hodgson introduced Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge at half-time in one of his better moves as England manager, with Vardy grabbing the equaliser 10 minutes after the restart.
Sturridge then scored the winner in injury time to spark scenes of pandemonium, which should have kickstarted England’s Euros campaign.
England then faced Slovakia with a chance to top the group, but they were lacklustre throughout in a goalless draw. Nevertheless a Round of 16 clash with Iceland represented an excellent opportunity to make it to the last eight.
What followed was arguably one of the worst England displays in tournament history as Iceland came from behind to win 2-1 and bring an end to Hodgson’s reign.
Euro 2020 was delayed by 12 months due to Covid-19, with 11 different countries hosting the 2021 event in an attempt to take the game to a wider audience.
England had lost to Croatia in the semi-finals of the World Cup three years earlier, but Gareth Southgate’s side went some way to avenging that defeat as Raheem Sterling grabbed the winning goal in the opening group game against the same opponents.
An edgy goalless draw against Scotland followed prior to England beating Czech Republic to seal top spot in Group D, with Sterling again on the scoresheet.
Sterling grabbed his third goal of the tournament and captain Harry Kane netted his first as England then defeated Germany in the Round of 16 at a raucous Wembley.
The nature of the tournament meant that England’s quarter-final against Ukraine took place in Rome, but after a thumping 4-0 victory, where Kane struck twice again, England progressed to the semi-finals against Denmark.
England were favourites to reach the final but they fell behind to Mikkel Damsgaard’s effort, only for Simon Kjaer’s own goal to level matters heading into the break.
Neither side could find a winner in normal time, but England were awarded a penalty towards the end of the first half of extra time after Sterling was brought down in the area.
Kane stepped up and saw his effort saved by Kasper Schmeichel, but he slotted home the rebound and England held on to reach their first major final since 1966.
The final got off to a perfect start as Luke Shaw volleyed past Player of the Tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 2nd minute, but England became passive rather than chase a second goal and Leonardo Bonucci equalised for Italy half way through the second half.
The game remained level after 120 minutes and penalties would decide the destination of the trophy. It was a chance of salvation at Wembley for Southgate, who had missed the decisive penalty in the semi-final shootout 25 years earlier.
It wasn’t to be for England as substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho missed their spot-kicks before Donnarumma saved from Bukayo Saka to evoke memories of the summer of 1996.
England now head to Germany as one of the favourites to end their Euros torment at Euro 2024, with Southgate remaining the man at the helm.
To Win Outright