West Ham United’s memorable 2021 will continue with five Hammers representing the Club at the UEFA European Championship finals.
England midfielder Declan Rice, Czech Republic pair Tomáš Souček and Vladimír Coufal, Poland goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański and Ukraine forward Andriy Yarmolenko have all been selected by their respective nations for this summer’s tournament, which will be hosted by eleven cities across the continent from Friday 11 June until Sunday 11 July.
The quintet will follow in the footsteps of 12 Hammers who featured at previous European Championship finals, and you can find out more about how those dozen Irons got on here…
1968 – World Cup winners reunite
Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were together again when England reached the final stage of the 1968 European Championship, two years after teaming up to inspire the Three Lions to FIFA World Cup glory on home turf.
Having come through a group stage and beaten Spain 3-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, with Peters on target in the second leg in Madrid, England were one of four nations to travel to Italy for the final stage.
There, they faced Yugoslavia in the semi-finals in Florence. With Moore captaining the side and Peters in midfield, but Hurst sitting on the substitutes’ bench, a goal from Red Star Belgrade star Dragan Džajić four minutes from full-time knocked England out.
Moore’s great friend and future Fulham teammate Alan Mullery also became the first England player to be sent-off and the dream of adding the European crown to the World title was over.
Hurst was back in the starting XI alongside his fellow Hammers for the third-place play-off against the Soviet Union and netted England’s second goal in a 2-0 win at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, collecting Peters’ pass and rounding the goalkeeper to score.
1980 – Greenwood and Brooking suffer early exit
The tournament was again held in Italy, where England were drawn in Group 2 alongside the hosts, Belgium and Spain.
Greenwood named a very strong squad featuring players who had won the European Cup with Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in each of the previous four seasons, led by captain Kevin Keegan. He also selected his former charge Trevor Brooking, fresh from his FA Cup final winning goal against Arsenal, and handed the 31-year-old Hammer the No10 shirt.
Brooking was in the team as England kicked-off with a 1-1 draw with Belgium in Turin, where Ray Wilkins’ scored a sensational goal, but he was left out for the second game, which ended in a 1-0 defeat by Italy.
The West Ham star was recalled for the final group match against Spain in Napoli and opened the scoring with a low shot in a 2-1 win, but it was not enough to prevent the Three Lions finishing third and being knocked out.
1996 – Bilić’s Croatia make their mark
While most West Ham United supporters were following the fortunes of Terry Venables’ England, who came within a whisker of reaching the final, only to be denied by Germany in a penalty shootout, two Hammers were involved at UEFA Euro 1996 for their own nations.
Centre-back Marc Rieper was an important member of a Denmark team led by goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and the outstanding Laudrup brothers, Michael and Brian. But the defending champions, who had shocked the continent by winning in Sweden in 1992 as late replacements for Yugoslavia, could not repeat their heroics, going out at the group stage.
Denmark were based in Sheffield, where a 1-1 draw with Portugal was followed by a 3-0 defeat by Croatia in a game highlighted by future West Ham striker Davor Šuker’s wonderful chip over Schmeichel, and a meaningless 3-0 win over Turkey.
The Denmark versus Croatia match featured both Rieper and his Hammers teammate and defensive partner Slaven Bilić, who would play a starring role as Croatia, who were competing in their first major tournament after declaring independence in 1991, reached the quarter-finals before being edged out by Germany.
2008 – Ljungberg’s last hurrah
Freddie Ljungberg was still a West Ham United player when he captained Sweden at UEFA Euro 2008, which was held jointly by Austria and Switzerland.
The experienced midfielder had enjoyed a productive 2007/08 campaign at the Boleyn Ground and had just turned 31 when he and his fellow countrymen opened their Group D challenge with a 2-0 win over defending champions Greece in Salzburg.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in that victory and then equalised against Spain in Innsbruck, only for an added-time goal from David Villa to send the Swedes to a 2-1 defeat. And when Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andriy Arshavin scored in each half in a winner-takes-all clash in the winter sports-mad city, Sweden slid out of the tournament.
Ljungberg announced his retirement from international football soon afterwards, then terminated his contract with the Hammers ahead of the 2008/09 season.
2012 – Future Hammers star
While West Ham United’s sole representative at UEFA Euro 2012, goalkeeper Robert Green, was an unused substitute throughout, a number of future Hammers starred in England’s run to the quarter-finals.
No fewer than eight past, present or future West Ham players were named in Roy Hodgson’s squad – Green, fellow stopper Joe Hart, defenders Glen Johnson and John Terry, midfielders Scott Parker and Stewart Downing and forwards Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll.
Then with Manchester City, Hart started all four matches and was in superb form throughout, while Carroll enjoyed arguably the best moment of his career in the 3-2 Group D win over Sweden, opening with scoring with an unstoppable header.
A 1-0 win over a Ukraine side that included Andriy Yarmolenko saw England set up a last-eight clash with Italy in Kiev, where they were edged out 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw.
2016 – Prime Payet
Four West Ham United players were involved at UEFA Euro 2016 in France, and three have reason to look back on the tournament favourably.
Fresh from a truly stunning debut season in Claret and Blue, Dimitri Payet was named in the Team of the Tournament after a series of sensational performances and goals, including late strikes in Group A wins over Romania and Albania and another goal in the quarter-final victory over Iceland.
Payet and France had also edged past the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16, where they found West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph in superb form. The stopper had earlier helped the Irish to qualify for the knockout stages as one of the best third-place teams by shutting out Italy in a memorable 1-0 win in Lille.
And the third Hammer to enjoy a productive tournament was James Collins, who was part of the Wales squad which defeated Slovakia, Russia, Northern Ireland and Belgium to set up a semi-final meeting with Portugal.
Replacing the suspended Ben Davies, Collins had the unenviable task of marking Cristiano Ronaldo and did well for the 66 minutes he was on the pitch before being sacrificed as Chris Coleman’s side tried in vain to turn around a 2-0 deficit.
The fourth Hammer at Euro 2016 was Angelo Ogbonna, but his only appearance in Italy’s run to the quarter-finals was in the aforementioned 1-0 defeat by the Republic of Ireland.