Euro Champs: Bryan Robson

It was one of those rare occasions in English international football history – Bryan Robson managed to keep both his shoulders in their sockets for the duration of a competitive fixture.

Truth be told, Captain Marvel was the only Englishman to come out of this 3-1 spanking by a Marco Van Basten-inspired Dutch with any credibility whatsoever, putting in a spirited performance as he tried to drag his team-mates to a modicum of respectability against a far superior opponent.

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Euro Chumps: Jürgen Klinsmann

The eyes of Europe were focused on West Germany’s prodigious young talent Jürgen Klinsmann as Euro 88 kicked off in his homeland and the VfB Stuttgart striker certainly made a lasting impression on the watching millions.

The-then reigning West German Young Player of the Year had not yet made an impact on the international stage but all that changed against bitter rivals the Dutch in the semi-finals of the 1988 tournament.

A ball into the edge of the area found Klinsmann, who turned and launched himself over the thigh of an Oranje defender with a triple Salchow, double somersault and belly flop finish for a dubious penalty, which was converted by Andreas Brehme (fresh off being swatted away by Bobby Mancini) and thus a career was born. Klinsmann would even take this ‘talent’ to a bigger stage and ‘earn’ his country the World Cup just two years later. All this being long before he wowed English fans by turning this art form into a celebration rather than a dirty, cheating technique.

Euro Champs: Roberto Mancini

Yes, the same Roberto Mancini who prowls the touchline at the Etihad, omnipresent in his blue and white scarf, telling anyone who would listen that Manchester City have no chance of winning the Premier League.

Before he rolled up at Leicester City and won a barrow-load of managerial honours with an Inter Milan side that were streets ahead of their rivals in Serie A because of the match-fixing scandal, Mancini was actually one of Europe’s premier attacking midfielder players and was the heartbeat of a Sampdoria side that were amongst the continent’s frontrunners in the late-80s/early 90s.

And did Mancini ever show that class in the opening game of Euro 88, silencing hosts West Germany with a well-taken goal. It was the Italian’s celebration that lived long in the memory though; a wide-eyed, slaloming run to the touchline that looked like he had been overtaken by the spirit of Marco Tardelli, even going so far as to swat West German defender Andreas Brehme out of the way in hilarious fashion.

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Euro Champs & Chumps

The European Championship starts today in Poland and Ukraine and over the years the tournament has given us some fantastic matches, goals and moments but also some of the more ridiculous and light-hearted sides of the beautiful game.

Champs & Chumps will look back at those players, coaches, officials and others who have made their mark on the tournament, for better or worse, since 1988 (the first tournament I can recall watching).