France became European champions for the first time in 1984, going all the way on home soil to win the 1984 UEFA European Championship. The French picked up their second gold medal 16 years later in 2000 when David Trezequet’s 103rd minute Golden Goal won the day.
However, the nation has had its fair share of disappointments too over the years, failing to qualify for Euro 1988 and crashing out at the group stage without winning a game at Euro 2008. They also failed to qualify for five tournaments in a row from 1964 to 1980, despite having taken part in the inaugural tournament in 1960.
UEFA European Championship Results
Though France took part in the first ever European Nations’ Cup in 1960, and indeed hosted the event, they were eliminated in the semis, losing 5-4 to Yugoslavia in Paris. Their wretched record of failing to qualify for five consecutive European Championships came next, before winning as the host nation in 1984. Les Bleus were not in West Germany to defend their crown in 1988 after once again failing to qualify, but they have featured in every European Championship since then, winning once again in 2000.
|Year||Host||Stage of Elimination (Position)||Manager||Top Scorer|
|2020||Europe||Round of 16 (9th)||Didier Deschamps||Karim Mostafa Benzema (4)|
|2016||France||Final (2nd)||Didier Deschamps||Antoine Griezmann (6)|
|2012||Poland & Ukraine||Quarter-final (8th)||Laurent Blanc||Yohan Cabaye (1), Jeremy Menez (1), Samir Nasri (1)|
|2008||Austria & Switzerland||Group Stage (15th)||Raymond Domenech||Thierry Henry (1)|
|2004||Portugal||Quarter-final (6th)||Jacques Santini||Zinedine Zidane (3)|
|2000||Belgium & Netherlands||Winners (1st)||Roger Lemerre||Thierry Henry (3)|
|1996||England||Semi-final (3rd)||Aime Jacquet||Laurent Blanc (1), Youri Djorkaeff (1), Christophe Dugarry (1) & Patrice Loko (1)|
|1992||Sweden||Group Stage (6th)||Michel Platini||Jean-Pierre Papin (2)|
|1984||France||Winners (1st)||Michel Hidalgo||Michel Platini (9)|
|1960||France||Third-place Play-off (4th)||Albert Batteux||Francois Heutte (2)|
When Did France Last Win the Euros?
France’s last European success came at the start of the century, when they went all the way at Euro 2000 in the tournament hosted jointly by Belgium and Netherlands. They were strong favourites on home turf in 2016, but Didier Deschamps’ boys lost a tight final to Portugal.
Times France Won the Euros
Euro 1984 – France Prevail on Home Soil
Having failed to qualify for the previous five championships, France made the most of being the hosts in 1984. Michel Platini was in inspired form, with his nine goals helping Michel Hidalgo’s men win the gold medal. The hosts won three group games before edging past the Portuguese in the last four. Goals from Platini and Bruno Bellone then gave them a 2-0 win over Spain in the final at the Parc des Princes in Paris.
French legend Michel Platini had quite a tournament in 1984. He scored nine goals in total, including two hat-tricks, and scored in every game his side played in the tournament. He scored three times as many goals as his nearest rival as he won the top scorer award at a canter.
Euro 2000 – Les Bleus Beat the Italians in Rotterdam
France’s second triumph came at Euro 2000. Having won the FIFA World Cup in 1998, the French national side were on a role going into the tournament. France finished second behind the Dutch in Group D, winning two and losing one. Les Bleus beat Spain in the quarters and Portugal in the semis (both 2-1).
In the final against Italy, Sylvain Wiltord equalised in injury time to take the game to extra time. Three minutes before penalties, David Trezeguet netted the Golden Goal in Rotterdam to give the French an unforgettable win.
It is fair to say France had a very solid side at Euro 2000. With Fabien Barthez in goal and Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc and Bixente Lizarazu in defence, they were certainly tough to score against, especially with added protection from captain Didier Deschamp. Add to that the attacking class of Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Youri Djorkaeff, and it is not difficult to see why they did well.
Best Other Performance: 2016
Apart from their wins in 1984 and 2000, France have had several memorable European Championship campaigns. However, their showing as hosts in 2016 was without doubt their best non-winning display at a Euros. France were among the favourites going into the tournament, and their star-studded team eased through the group stage before beating Republic of Ireland, Iceland and Germany in the knockouts. They were strong favourites in the final, but Portugal edged a tight game in Paris after extra time. Antoine Griezmann won the Golden Boot and was named Player of the Tournament, while France netted 13 times in total, adding a good dose of Gallic flare to proceedings.
Golden Boot/Top Goalscorer
In the first tournament in 1960, five players finished on two goals each, including France’s Francois Heutte. Michel Platini scored the record number of goals in a European Championship in 1984, scoring an impressive nine times, including one in the final (and indeed at least one in each game in which he played). At Euro 2016, Antoine Griezmann’s six goals won him the Golden Boot, with Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet among six players finishing second on three goals apiece.
|Year||Host||Player||Number of Goals||Runner(s) Up|
|2016||France||Antoine Griezmann||6||Olivier Giroud (3), Dimitri Payet (3), Nani (3), Cristiano Ronaldo (3), Alvaro Morata (3) & Gareth Bale (3)|
|1984||France||Michel Platini||9||Frank Arnesen (3)|
|1960||France||Francois Heutte||2||Joint Top Scorer – Viktor Ponedelnik (2), Valentin Ivanov (2), Milan Galic (2) & Drazan Jerkovic (2)|
Times France Didn’t Qualify For the Euros
France were one of four teams to participate in the inaugural tournament in 1960, but they then failed to qualify for the following five. The French had a disastrous qualifying campaign for Euro 1988 in West Germany when they managed to post just a single win from their eight qualifying matches. Soviet Union won the group, with East Germany also finishing above Michel Platini’s France, who ended on just six points. They have featured in every European Championship since, though.
|1988||West Germany||Michel Platini||8||1||4||3|
|1968||Italy||Jean Snella / Louis Dugauguez||8||4||2||2|
|1964||Spain||Albert Batteux / Henri Guerin||6||2||1||3|
France have only failed to reach the knockout stage of a European Championship (of those for which they qualified) on two occasions. In Sweden in 1992, the French finished third behind the hosts and Denmark in Group 1 after drawing against England and Sweden and losing to (surprise eventual winners of the tournament) Denmark. Still, that was one place better than England who finished at the bottom of the group!
However, their performance at Euro 2008 was without doubt their worst showing at a European Championship tournament. They started with a 0-0 draw with Romania but were then walloped 4-1 by Holland before crashing out with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Italy. Raymond Domenech’s men left Austria and Switzerland with just one point and one goal to show for their efforts.