Occasionally one hears that national teams are no longer keeping with the times.

In fact, the concept of a nation is historically burdened in Europe. But if it is handled responsibly, it can create identification without causing harm. And a continental competition, a European Championship, can strengthen the European idea through the spirit of football.

The history of the Euros shows that sport in the broadest sense can have a unifying effect on nations. East and West got to know each other better.

The first tournament in 1960, at the time of the Cold War, was won by the Soviet Union. Lev Yashin, the “Black Panther” from Moscow, is still a household name for football fans today. The prototype of the playmaking keeper, Yashin was the only goalkeeper to be awarded the honour of Europe’s Footballer of the Year.

In 1976, Czechoslovakia became European champions on the night in Belgrade.

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