UEFA European Under-21 Championship

The UEFA European Under-21 Championship is a biennial football competition contested by the European men's under-21 national teams of the member associations of UEFA.

UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Founded1978
RegionEurope (UEFA)
Number of teams55 (total)
16 (finals)
Current champions Spain (5th title)
Most successful team(s) Italy
 Spain
(5 titles each)
2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship

Italy and Spain are the most successful teams in this competition, having won five titles each. Spain are also the current champions.

History

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 1973.

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 2019, players need to be born in or after 1996. Many can be actually 23 years old by the time the finals tournament takes place; however, when the qualification process began (2017) all players would have been 21 or under.

Under-21 matches were typically played on the day before senior internationals and where possible, the same qualifying groups and fixtures were played out. This has changed since 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.

Spain are the reigning champions, defeating Germany 2–1 in the 2019 final. The finals of the 2019 competition were hosted by Italy.

Format

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.

From 2009 to 2015, ten qualification groups were used, with the group winners and four best runners-up going into the two-legged playoffs.

The 2015 finals was to be the last 8 teams edition, as UEFA expanded the participants to the finals to 12 teams starting from 2017 edition.[1]

On 6 February 2019, UEFA's Executive Committee increased the number of participants to the finals to 16 teams, starting from 2021 edition.[2]

Results

Under-23 championships

Held only three times before it was relabelled by UEFA.

Year Host Final Losing semi-finalists Number of teams
Winner Score Runner-up
1972 Home-and-away basis
Czechoslovakia
2–2 / 3–1
5–3 on aggregate

Soviet Union
 Bulgaria and  Greece 8 (23)
1974 Home-and-away basis
Hungary
2–3 / 4–0
6–3 on aggregate

East Germany
 Poland and  Soviet Union 8 (21)
1976 Home-and-away basis
Soviet Union
1–1 / 2–1
3–2 on aggregate

Hungary
 Netherlands and  Yugoslavia 8 (23)

Under-21 championships

Year Host Final Losing semi-finalists
(or third place match)
Number of teams
Winner Score Runner-up
1978 Home-and-away basis
Yugoslavia
1–0 / 4–4
5–4 on aggregate

East Germany
 Bulgaria and  England 8 (24)
1980 Home-and-away basis
Soviet Union
0–0 / 1–0
1–0 on aggregate

East Germany
 England and  Yugoslavia 8 (25)
1982 Home-and-away basis
England
3–1 / 2–3
5–4 on aggregate

West Germany
 Scotland and  Soviet Union 8 (26)
1984 Home-and-away basis
England
1–0 / 2–0
3–0 on aggregate

Spain
 Italy and  Yugoslavia 8 (30)
1986 Home-and-away basis
Spain
1–2 / 2–1
3–3 on aggregate
3–0 (p)

Italy
 England and  Hungary 8 (29)
1988 Home-and-away basis
France
0–0 / 3–0
3–0 on aggregate

Greece
 England and  Netherlands 8 (30)
1990 Home-and-away basis
Soviet Union
4–2 / 3–1
7–3 on aggregate

Yugoslavia
 Italy and  Sweden 8 (30)
1992 Home-and-away basis
Italy
2–0 / 0–1
2–1 on aggregate

Sweden
 Denmark and  Scotland 8 (32)
1994  France
Italy
1–0
(a.e.t.)

Portugal

Spain
2–1
France
8 (32)
1996  Spain
Italy
1–1
4–2 (p)

Spain

France
1–0
Scotland
8 (44)
1998  Romania
Spain
1–0
Greece

Norway
2–0
Netherlands
8 (46)
2000  Slovakia
Italy
2–1
Czech Republic

Spain
1–0
Slovakia
8 (47)
2002   Switzerland
Czech Republic
0–0
3–1 (p)

France
 Italy and   Switzerland 8 (47)
2004  Germany
Italy
3–0
Serbia and Montenegro

Portugal
3–2
(a.e.t.)

Sweden
8 (48)
2006  Portugal
Netherlands
3–0
Ukraine
 France and  Serbia and Montenegro 8 (51)
2007  Netherlands
Netherlands
4–1
Serbia
 Belgium and  England 8 (51)
2009  Sweden
Germany
4–0
England
 Italy and  Sweden 8 (52)
2011  Denmark
Spain
2–0
Switzerland

Belarus
1–0
Czech Republic
8 (53)
2013  Israel
Spain
4–2
Italy
 Netherlands and  Norway 8 (53)
2015  Czech Republic
Sweden
0–0
4–3
(p)

Portugal
 Denmark and  Germany 8 (53)
2017  Poland
Germany
1–0
Spain
 England and  Italy 12 (53)
2019  Italy
Spain
2–1
Germany
 France and  Romania 12 (55)
2021  Hungary
 Slovenia
16 (55)

Statistics

Performances by countries

Only under-21 championships are included in the table.

Team Winners Runners-up Third-place Fourth-place Semi-finalists Total (Top Four)
 Spain 5 (1986, 1998, 2011, 2013, 2019) 3 (1984, 1996, 2017) 2 10
 Italy 5 (1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004) 2 (1986, 2013) 5 12
 Germany[lower-alpha 1] 2 (2009, 2017) 2 (1982, 2019) 1 5
 England 2 (1982, 1984) 1 (2009) 6 9
 Netherlands 2 (2006, 2007) 1 2 5
 Soviet Union 2 (1980, 1990) 1 3
 France 1 (1988) 1 (2002) 1 1 2 6
 Sweden 1 (2015) 1 (1992) 1 2 5
 Czech Republic 1 (2002) 1 (2000) 1 3
 Yugoslavia 1 (1978) 1 (1990) 2 4
 Portugal 2 (1994, 2015) 1 3
 Serbia 2 (2004, 2007) 1 3
 East Germany 2 (1978, 1980) 2
 Greece 2 (1988, 1998) 2
  Switzerland 1 (2011) 1 2
 Ukraine 1 (2006) 1
 Norway 1 1 2
 Belarus 1 1
 Scotland 1 2 3
 Slovakia 1 1
 Denmark 2 2
 Belgium 1 1
 Bulgaria 1 1
 Hungary 1 1
 Romania 1 1
Total2222663288
  1. Includes West Germany

Participating details

Teams 19781980198219841986198819901992
1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

2006

2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

2017

2019

2021
Total
 Albania ×××QF×TBD 1
 Austria ×GSTBD 1
 Belarus Part of USSR×GSGS3rdTBD 3
 Belgium GSSFGSTBD 3
 Bulgaria SFQFTBD 2
 Croatia Part of Yugoslavia××GSGSGSTBD 3
 Czech Republic4 QFQFQFQFQFQFQF2nd1stGS4thGSGSTBD 12
 Denmark QFQFSFGSGSSFGSGSTBD 8
 England SFSF1st1stSFSFGSGSSF2ndGSGSGSSFGSTBD 15
 Finland GSTBD 1
 France QFQFQF1st4th3rd2ndSFSFTBD 9
 Germany2 2nd2nd2ndQFQFQFQFGSGS1stGSSF1st2ndTBD 12
 Greece 2ndQF2ndGSTBD 4
 Hungary QFQFSFQFq 5
 Iceland ×××GSTBD 1
 Israel Member of OFCGSGSTBD 2
 Italy QFQFQFSF2ndQFSF1st1st1st1stSF1stGSGSSF2ndGSSFGSTBD 20
 Netherlands ×SFQF4thGS1st1stSFTBD 7
 North Macedonia Part of Yugoslavia××GSTBD 1
 Norway 3rdSFTBD 2
 Poland QFQFQFQFQFGSGSTBD 7
 Portugal ×2ndQFGS3rdGSGS2ndGSTBD 8
 Romania QFSFTBD 2
 Russia3 1stSF1stQFQFGSTBD 6
 Scotland QFSFQFQFSF4thTBD 6
 Serbia1 1stSFSF2nd××2ndSF2ndGSGSGSGSTBD 11
 Slovakia Part of Czechoslovakia4thGSTBD 2
 Slovenia Part of Yugoslavia××q 1
 Spain QF2nd1stQFQF3rd2nd1st3rdGS1st1st2nd1stTBD 13
 Sweden QFSF2ndQF4thSF1stGSTBD 8
  Switzerland SFGS2ndTBD 3
 Turkey GSTBD 1
 Ukraine Part of USSR×2ndGSTBD 2
Total88888888888888888888121216
Legend
Notes

Awards

Golden Player

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

Edition Golden Player Ref(s)
1978 Vahid Halilhodžić [3]
1980 Anatoliy Demyanenko [4]
1982 Rudi Völler [5]
1984 Mark Hateley [6]
1986 Manolo Sanchís [7]
1988 Laurent Blanc [8]
1990 Davor Šuker [9]
1992 Renato Buso [10]
1994 France Luís Figo [11]
1996 Spain Fabio Cannavaro [12]
1998 Romania Francesc Arnau [13]
2000 Slovakia Andrea Pirlo [14]
2002 Switzerland Petr Čech [15]
2004 Germany Alberto Gilardino [16]
2006 Portugal Klaas-Jan Huntelaar [17]
2007 Netherlands Royston Drenthe [18]
2009 Sweden Marcus Berg [19]
2011 Denmark Juan Mata [20]
2013 Israel Thiago Alcântara [21]
2015 Czech Republic William Carvalho [22]
2017 Poland Dani Ceballos [23]
2019 Italy Fabián Ruiz [24]

Golden Boot

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 Andrea Pirlo 3         [25]
2002 Switzerland Massimo Maccarone 3 [25]
2004 Germany Alberto Gilardino 4 [25]
2006 Portugal Klaas-Jan Huntelaar 4 [25]
2007 Netherlands Maceo Rigters 4 [25]
2009 Sweden Marcus Berg 7 [25]
2011 Denmark Adrián 5 [25]
2013 Israel Álvaro Morata 4 Thiago 3 Isco 3 [26]
2015 Czech Republic Jan Kliment 3 Kevin Volland 2 John Guidetti 2 [25]
2017 Poland Saúl 5 Marco Asensio 3 Bruma 3 [27]
2019 Italy Luca Waldschmidt 7 George Pușcaș 4 Marco Richter 3 [28]

EURO Under-21 dream team

On 17 June 2015, UEFA revealed an all-time best XI from the previous Under-21 final tournaments.[29]

Goalkeeper Defenders Midfielders Forwards
Manuel Neuer Mats Hummels
Giorgio Chiellini
Alessandro Nesta
Branislav Ivanović
Frank Lampard
Mesut Özil
Andrea Pirlo
Xavi
Francesco Totti
Raúl

See also

References

  1. "U21 final tournament expanding to 12 teams". UEFA.com. 24 January 2014.
  2. "Aleksander Čeferin re-elected UEFA President until 2023". UEFA.com. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  3. "1978: Vahid Halilhodžić". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1978. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  4. "1980: Anatoliy Demyanenko". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1980. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  5. "1982: Rudi Völler". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1982. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  6. "1984: Mark Hateley". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1984. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  7. "1986: Manuel Sanchís". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 2 June 1986. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  8. "1988: Laurent Blanc". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1988. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  9. "1990: Davor Šuker". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1990. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  10. "1992: Renato Buso". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1992. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  11. "1994: Luís Figo". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1994. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  12. "1996: Fabio Cannavaro". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1996. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  13. "1998: Francesc Arnau". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 1998. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  14. "2000: Andrea Pirlo". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 July 2000. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  15. "2002: Petr Čech". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  16. "2004: Alberto Gilardino". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  17. "2006: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  18. "2007: Royston Drenthe". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  19. "2009: Marcus Berg". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  20. "2009: Juan Mata". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  21. "2013: Thiago Alcântara". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  22. "William named U21 EURO player of the tournament". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  23. "Spain's Dani Ceballos named Player of the Tournament". UEFA.com.
  24. "Fabián Ruiz named SOCAR Player of the Tournament". UEFA.com.
  25. "Czech striker Kliment wins Golden Boot award". UEFA.com. 30 June 2015.
  26. Adams, Sam (18 June 2013). "Morata wins Golden Boot in Spanish clean sweep". UEFA.com. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 2013 Under-21 finals top scorers
    Golden Boot: Álvaro Morata, Spain – 4 goals, 1 assist
    Silver Boot: Thiago Alcántara – 3 goals, 1 assist
    Bronze Boot: Isco, Spain – 3 goals
  27. "Saúl Ñíguez wins U21 EURO adidas Golden Boot". UEFA.com. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017. Golden Boot: Saúl Ñíguez (Spain) – 5 goals, 1 assist
    Silver Boot: Marco Asensio (Spain) – 3 goals, 1 assist
    Bronze Boot: Bruma (Portugal) – 3 goals
  28. "Alipay Top Scorer". UEFA.com. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  29. "Our all-time Under-21 EURO dream team". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
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