From Kim Vilforts remarkable show of mental strenth to Francesco Toldos psychological war on penalty takers half a dozen sensational displays
1) Jean-Franois Domergue (France v Portugal, 1984)
Despite memorable efforts by Basile Boli and Zinedine Zidane, Manuel Amoros is the perpetrator of the greatest head-butt in the history of Les Bleus. Because when Amoros reacted to being felled by Denmarks Jesper Olsen in Frances opening group game at Euro 84 by trying to hurl a ball at the winger and then sticking a loaf on him, he copped a suspension that led to Jean-Franois Domergues first international start. Domergue was respected domestically his dynamism from left-back was one of the few highlights of Lyons season in 1983 and convinced Toulouse to sign him when Lyon were relegated but the extent of his international action prior to Euro 84 consisted of one half in a pre-tournament friendly against West Germany. But he came on as a substitute for Yvon Le Roux against Denmark and, following Amoross red card, kept his place for the remainder of the tournament. In the semi-final against Portugal he made an indelible impact on the European Championship, illuminating a classic match with the highlight of his career.
Michel Platini is remembered as the outstanding individual of Euro 84 and rightly so, for he was magnificent. And Domergue played upon that fact to make his own mark. When France were awarded a free-kick at the edge of the area in the 24th minute of the semi-final, the Portuguese goalkeeper, Bento, along with the entire watching world, expected Platini to unleash a shot. Frances captain had already scored seven goals in the tournament and could do almost anything he wanted from free-kicks. But I saw a little opening and asked Michel if I could hit it and he said: OK, go on, explained Domergue afterwards, accounting for the fact that he stepped up and walloped the free-kick into the top corner with the outside of his left foot, barely bringing a movement from the stunned Bento. France created many chances to extend their lead after that, with Domergue hurtling down the left with thrilling regularity, but Portugal drew level through Jordo in the 74th minute and then took the lead early in extra time, thanks to a volley by the same player. It was as if our whole world was falling in but we sort of said to each other: if were going to do anything, now is the time to do it and I think everyone just went for it, Domergue said.
Six minutes from full time, he mounted yet another raid down the left and pinged the ball into Le Roux near the Portuguese penalty spot. Le Rouxs shot was blocked and the ball rolled to Platini, who collapsed under a challenge by a defender. Before anyone could appeal for a penalty, Domergue strode forth and lashed the breaking ball past the outrushing Bento and into the roof of the net. Platini, inevitably, scored the winner in the 119th minute. Domergue never scored again for his country and, indeed, finished his career with only nine caps. But hell always have Portugal. PD
2) Ivo Viktor (Czechoslovakia v West Germany, 1976)
There were only four matches at Euro 76 but every one was a belter and we may, at various points over the next few weeks, find ourselves pining for a such a concentration of quality. West Germanys Dieter Mller gave a particularly condensed demonstration of excellence, coming off the bench to make his international debut in the 74th minute of West Germanys semi-final against Yugoslavia and then scoring with his first touch before adding two more goals to crown a 4-2 win. Jaroslav Pollak crammed so much brilliance into the other semi-final, Czechoslovakias 3-1 win over Holland, that he was named in the team of the tournament, despite only gracing it for 60 minutes. His exhibition reached an abrupt end when he was sent off a brutal foul on Johan Neeskens (who would later be sent off for an even more violent tackle as some Dutchmen apparently decided to go down with an almighty kicking spree, an attitude Tottenham Hotspur would invoke many years later during a memorable outing to Stamford Bridge). But despite Pollaks midfield splendour and a superb defence marshaled by Anton Ondrus, Czechoslovakia would never have been crowned European champions if not for two magnificent performances by their goalkeeper, Ivo Viktor. After excelling against Holland, the 34-year-old Dukla Prague keeper was outstanding in the final against West Germany, who, as against Yugoslavia, recovered from two goals down but this time could not go on and win, largely because Viktor showed exceptional agility to turn away shots by Erich Beer, Rainer Bonhof and Bernd Hlzenbein. Without those saves Antonin Panenka would never have got to take his now legendary spot-kick and Viktor might only be remembered as the guy who, in 1970, was made to scurry backwards in fearful panic as Pel tried to lob him from beyond the halfway line. PD
3) Bernd Schuster (West Germany v Holland, 1980)
After gaining a measure of revenge for their defeat in the 1976 final by beating Czechoslovakia 1-0 in their opening group game four years later, West Germany made an inspiring change for their next match. Their manager, Jupp Derwall, plumped for a more adventurous approach, switching from a 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and giving a start to Bernd Schuster against the Germans fiercest rivals, Holland. Klaus Allofs scored an excellent hat-trick in a 3-2 victory but most of the acclaim was reserved for Schuster, who was instrumental in each of his teams goals and in almost everything else they did well.
Schuster conducted his teams play with a thrilling range of passing and powerful bursts from midfield. The Dutch hardly got a touch in the first 20 minutes and it was no surprise when the Germans opened the scoring, Allofs converting the rebound after a ferocious Schuster shot crashed back off a post. The Dutch could not cope with West Germanys superior technique, speed and strength, particularly that of Schuster, who bestrode midfield with almost nonchalant imperiousness. Schuster created his sides second goal by winning possession in midfield and passing to Hansi Mller, who cut the ball back for Allofs. And he teed up the third by seizing the ball in the Dutch box, dashing past a defender and playing a reverse pass that seemed practically unfeasible at the speed he was running, and the angle he was at, presenting Allofs with a chance to make it 3-0. Holland fought back to 3-2 but West Germany won.
A yellow card was the only blemish on Schusters performance and Derwall decided to omit him from the last group game lest he be suspended for the final. Reintroduced to the starting lineup for that final, he pulled West Germanys strings again and led them to victory over Belgium. He was only 20 years old and seemingly destined to be one of the stars of international football for the next decade or more. But Schuster wasnt a man to bow to expectations, nor to authority or social conventions. He never played in another international tournament owing to a variety of fallings out, notably with Derwall. At 24, he retired from international football, saving his best for Barcelona and Real Madrid instead. PD