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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
France 1960
Henri Delaunay was the man behind the inaugural Nations Cup
Henri Delaunay was the man behind the inaugural Nations Cup
Final result
USSR 2-1 Yugoslavia

The current European Championship bears little relation to the inaugural event of 44 years ago - even the name has been changed.

The Nations Cup was conceived by French Football Federation secretary Henri Delaunay and Uefa issued invitations for countries to enter the qualifiers from 1958 onwards, with a view to a four-team finals to be staged in France in 1960.

They were not exactly deluged with positive responses.

Britain's collective reluctance to take part was of little surprise given their established routine of snubbing innovations in world football, but other absentees perhaps did more to detract from the status of the fledgling event.

West Germany - World Cup winners of 1954 - had no interest and Italy, another major European force, also politely declined.

In fact, there were genuine concerns that the qualifying tournament would fall short of the required 16 countries but a few last-minute entries saved the day and the event went ahead as planned.

Franz Beckenbauer of West Germany
West Germany, led by Franz Beckenbauer, refused to take part
After eight first-round matches played over two legs, Portugal, Yugoslavia, France, Austria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Spain and the Soviet Union reached the quarter-finals.

But political intervention was to cause further disruption.

Spain, led by right-wing leader General Franco, were withdrawn from the competition rather than face the Soviet Union and Lev Yashin's side earned a bye into the semi-finals.

France beat Austria convincingly in another round of double headers to take a place in their own finals - there were no automatic entries for hosts at this stage - and they were joined by Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in the last four after their defeats of Portugal and Romania.

The French were without goalscoring legend Just Fontaine for their semi-final against Yugoslavia.

They still managed to establish leads of 3-1 and 4-2 with a quarter of an hour to go at the Parc des Princes before three goals in four minutes sensationally turned the tide.

Tomislav Knez started the comeback and a quick brace by Drazen Jerkovic was enough to knock France out.

TOP SCORERS 1960
Ivanov (USSR) 2
Jerkovic (Yugoslavia) 2

The Soviet Union proved much too strong for Czechoslovakia, with Victor Ponedelnik scoring twice in a 3-0 win that brought them face to face with Yugoslavia in the final.

France were denied the honour of finishing third after they were beaten 2-0 by the Czechs and that may account for the reason why less than 18,000 people turned up to watch the first Nations Cup final.

Those that stayed away missed a tense battle of wills, with Yugoslavia taking a first-half lead through Milan Galic which was later cancelled out by Slava Metreveli.

The Soviet Union prevailed in extra-time as Ponedelnik's header earned them the title as the first champions of Europe.


1960 Nations Cup results (Held in France)

Semi-finals
France 4-5 Yugoslavia
Soviet Union 3-0 Czechoslovakia

Third place play-off
France 0-2 Czechoslovakia

FINAL
Soviet Union 2-1 Yugoslavia (AET)





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