THERE'S ONLY 101 EURO FOOTBALL FACTS!; In 1960, England and Scotland, along with Germany and Italy, didn't even enter the first European nations football tournament. Now they're all battling it out to see who will emerge triumphant in Euro '96. And that's just one of the 101 things you didn't know about this year's super event.
The TV audience for Euro '96 is estimated at 6.9 billion viewers.
Around 180 TV stations from 150 countries are planning to transmit pictures of the games.
For the very first time, the finals will feature 16 teams - previous finals have been contested by four or eight sides.
The 15 visiting teams are expected to bring 330 players and 600,000 fans.
Bids to host the 1996 European Championship finals closed in November 1991. England won by default - as the only nation to get their bid in on time.
England will be hoping to improve on a dodgy record in the finals. Their best year was in 1968 when they finished third.
The game between England and Scotland on June 15 will be the first time the countries have met since May 1989, when England won 2-0. But the first-ever international was between these sides, who've played each other 107 times.
The Queen will grace Wembley with her presence for this year's final - the first time Her Majesty has attended a game since the 1966 World Cup.
Some 90 full-time office staff, 4,000 volunteers and 25,000 police officers have been brought in to help run Euro '96.
Unlike the 1994 World Cup, this year's Opening Ceremony will not feature Diana Ross missing a penalty. Instead, Simply Red will perform the theme song We're In This Together.
Other Opening Ceremony highlights will include medieval jousting, a tribute to football down the ages and a fly-past by the Red Arrows.
To celebrate the championships, Manchester Art Council is hosting a modern art exhibition about football called Offside! Exhibits include Colombian artist Freddy Contreras' Stud - a display of stiletto shoes which he claims represents "the relationship between sport, advertising, fashion and sex".
The scoring record to beat is that of midfield maestro Michel Platini who scored nine goals as France won the championships in 1984. The rest of the team managed the grand total of five between them.
Fancied Italy were beaten twice by Croatia and could only draw with Slovenia in their qualifying group matches.
Once it was announced that England would be hosting the tournament, the police compiled a database of 6,000 convicted hooligans who weren't allowed to buy tickets.
All the previous winners have qualified for Euro '96 - Russia (1960), Spain (1964), Italy (1968), West Germany (1972 and 1980), Czechoslovakia (1976), France (1984), Holland (1988) and Denmark (1992).
England will be trying to win a match in the finals for the first time since 1980.
Defending the trophy are Denmark, who managed to win in 1992 despite failing to qualify for the finals. The Great Danes received a late entry when Yugoslavia were ejected as civil war broke out in the Balkans.
Croatia's current star player Zvonimir Boban was partly blamed for starting that war. When a brawl broke out during a match between Red Star Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb in 1991, Boban kicked a Serb policeman on the buttocks. Boban claimed he was defending the honour of his country.
You just can't let them near a sunbed. When the Italian team tried to reserve The Mottram Hotel near Manchester for Euro '96, they found the Germans had already got there first!
The Turkish team received a bonus of pounds 75,000 per man for qualifying for Euro '96. At the time they were promised it - 1983 - officials considered their team was so poor that shelling out was unlikely.
Unlike the World Cup in 1966, when the Government paid for England to host the tournament, the Football Association is paying the costs of Euro '96.
Bulgarian superstar Hristo Stoichkov is so popular back home that one newspaper is devoted entirely to his on and off-the field activities.
Three sets of brothers are due to compete at Euro '96 - Gary and Phillip Neville (England), Brian and Michael Laudrup (Denmark) and Ronald and Frank De Boer (Holland).
No-one enjoys facing Romanian wizard Gheorghe Hagi. Back home, the outstanding midfielder is known as The Maradona of The Carpathians.
ITV and BBC have formed a special company called FORTO (Football Operation Radio and TV Organisation) as they pool some resources to cover the tournament.
Each of the eight grounds hosting matches will have 19 TV cameras and 11 video editing machines installed.
French striker Zinedine Zidane is a martial arts expert. But while countryman Eric Cantona may have suggested a preference for karate, Zidane practises judo.
Spain's pin-up boy is Julen Guerrero. When Athletico Bilbao's owner insisted that hunky Guerrero cut his hair, female fans besieged the San Mames Stadium to protest.
Sorry Brian Moore and ITV! Independent research suggests that eight out of ten armchair viewers prefer to watch football on BBC.
Visitors to Britain for Euro '96 will spend an average of pounds 500 each.
Fans attending the games are expected to spend pounds 45 million on merchandise - more if England make it to the final.
Italian forward Gianfranco Zola will be hoping to enjoy Euro '96 more than USA '94. Brought on as a substitute during the game against Nigeria, Zola lasted precisely 11 minutes before being sent off. He was suspended for the rest of the tournament.
Zola's striking partner in the national side is Alessandro Del Piero. As a child, however, Del Piero played in goal: "My mother didn't want me running around," he says. "She was afraid I'd perspire and catch a cold so I always played in goal".
Euro '96 hopefuls will have to go some to beat the record match score. In 1983, Spain needed to win their group game against Malta by 11 clear goals to reach the final. They won 12-1.
There were a total of 1.5 million tickets available for the 31 matches.
Scotland defender Colin Calderwood admits he has an unusual pre-match warm-up routine. He slaps himself in the face for ten minutes.
BBC and ITV will unravel 1,500 miles of cable to carry sound and pictures of the matches.
Tournament organisers UEFA admit the man who looks after the trophy keeps on losing it. Media director Fritz Ahlstrom said: "I lost track of the trophy for three months once. It's usually kept in the bomb shelter at my home in Switzerland but I keep losing the key to the shelter."
For the first time, this year the holders (Denmark) were not obliged to play in the qualification groups.
The BBC-ITV company FORTO has rented 20 tons of commentary equipment from the organisers of this year's Olympics in Atlanta.
Former QPR goalkeeper Jan Stejskal will be missing from the Czech Republic side. He quit the team, claiming their league was fixed last year to ensure Sparta Prague won. Jan plays for runners-up Slavia Prague.
Bulgaria's goalkeeper Boris Mikhailov, who plays for First Division Reading, wears a wig.
Croatia manager Miroslav Blazevic is awaiting trial for allegedly fixing matches in France. He's been given bail so he can manage the Croatians in England.
Croatia was a Nazi puppet state during World War II and regularly played "internationals" against The Fatherland. Unsurprisingly, Croatia always lost.
France qualified without the help of their three most famous players - Eric Cantona, David Ginola and Jean-Pierre Papin. But, since failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, France haven't lost for 20 games.
After qualifying for the first time, six people in Turkey were accidentally shot dead as fans celebrated by firing guns in the streets of Istanbul.
The Lightning Seeds, who sing England's official Three Lions anthem, have a previous football connection. Their hit The Life Of Riley was used as background music for the goals round-up on Match Of The Day for three years.
Scottish band Primal Scream, whose previous Top Ten hits include Loaded and Rocks, release their first single in two years to coincide with Euro '96. However, The Big Man And The Scream Meet Uptown will only be available during the week of the England v Scotland clash.
Another one to beat: the European Championship aggregate goalscoring record is held by Germany's Gerd Muller with 18.
No matter what happens to the '96 hopefuls they'll never have a Euro record to match San Marino's: Played 18, won 0, drawn 0, lost 18.
TV pundit and England boss-to-be Glenn Hoddle made his last international appearance in the European Championship. Hoddle was never picked again after England went down 3-1 to the USSR.
Switzerland qualified for Euro '96 without the aid of striker Kubilai Turkilmaz. A naturalised Swiss, Turkilmaz refused to play for them after receiving death threats in his native tongue, Turkish, when Turkey and Switzerland were drawn in the same qualifying group.
Armchair TV expert and former England ace Gary Lineker never scored in the European finals. Lineker bowed out of the international scene when he was substituted during the 2-1 defeat by Sweden in 1992.
Matthias Sammer is renowned as the hard man of the German defence. Sammer's nickname among Bundesliga fans is The Butcher of Dortmund.
Visiting teams have been allocated 7,000 tickets for each game. Finalists will receive 11,000 each.
Bulgarian coach Ditimar Penev played in the 1966 World Cup Finals - the only man who will have taken part in that event and Euro '96.
Germany's coach Berti Vogts is also hoping to pull off a unique double. Full-back in the victorious West German side of 1972, Vogts aims to become the first man to win as a player AND manager.
Some of the greatest names in European football will be absent from Euro '96, among them Roberto Baggio, Ryan Giggs, David Ginola, Marc Overmars, Graeme Le Saux, Franco Baresi, Georgiou Kinkladze, Gianluca Vialli, Duncan Ferguson, Matthew Le Tissier - all missing through injury, non-selection or the failure of their countries to qualify.
The "Golden Goal" rule has been introduced for Euro '96. Extra time will be played if matches are drawn in the knock-out stages, but the first goal scored will win. If neither side scores, penalties will decide it.
Around 5,500 media people are due to arrive in the UK for Euro '96.
Scottish keeper Andy Goram is a double international, having also played cricket for Scotland. One of Goram's three caps was against Australia in 1989 and the first ball he faced was a Merv Hughes bouncer. "Stick to football, son," was Merv the Swerve's advice.
BBC panellist Ruud Gullit scored the first goal for Holland in a 2- 0 victory over Russia in the 1988 final.
ITV commentator Brian Moore has covered every European Championship final since 1980.
The Far East might have seemed an odd place to warm up for Euro '96. However, given a choice between South Africa, USA and The Far East, the England players chose it themselves.
The final will be watched by 76,000 at Wembley - a far cry from the record 134,000 at Hampden Park in 1968 for Scotland v England.
England keeper David Seaman once let in 14 goals in 35 minutes. "It was my first game for my junior school," he winces. "I came on for the second half and we lost 26-0."
Only four of last season's Premiership clubs failed to provide Terry Venables with at least one squad member - Bolton, Leeds, Manchester City and Sheffield Wednesday.
The City Ground, Nottingham, has the smallest capacity - 30,500 - of the eight stadiums being used.
Scotland coach Craig Brown obviously understands the power of motivation. To get his men in a patriotic frame of mind before one of their qualifying games, Brown organised a special screening of the movie Braveheart.
If England reach the final, Terry Venables might do worse than emulate Alf Ramsey, who helped his players relax in 1966 by taking them to see the latest James Bond film, Thunderball.
A little light relief: Three off-beat reports featuring Nick Hancock, of hit show They Think It's All Over, will be shown on BBC during the tournament.
A record entry of 47 nations competed in 230 qualifying games for Euro '96.
The last nation to qualify were Holland who beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in a play-off at Anfield.
Russia scored most goals in qualifying matches (34) while France conceded the least (2).
Of the 31 Euro '96 matches, 27 will be screened live on BBC1 or ITV. The four missing matches are not being shown live because the final set of group games (such as England v Holland and Scotland v Switzerland) take place at the same time.
Who do the commentators think will win? BBC's Barry Davies plumps for Germany, Sky's Andy Gray opts for Holland while ITV's Bob Wilson can't decide between Italy and the Germans.
Four nations are preparing to take part in the finals for the first time - Switzerland, Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic.
Germany were desperate to avoid Scotland in the draw. When the countries met four years ago, Richard Gough broke Karl-Heinz Reidle's nose AND split Guido Buchwald's head (both before half-time) while Stuart McCall accidentally butted Stefan Reuter. At one point, the Germans ran out of substitutes.
The name of the referee for the final will not be known until after the semis. The official at the inaugural final in 1960 was England's Arthur Ellis, later of It's A Knockout fame.
One of the first games sold out for Euro '96 was the quarter-final at Anfield. England must travel to Liverpool if they come second in their group, suggesting that Scousers believe El Tel's team have little chance of finishing above Holland.
To general astonishment, the Euro '96 box office was also besieged with ticket requests for Turkey v Denmark. That too is a sell-out.
Artistic expression is obviously important for international bosses. Swiss manager Artur Jorge is a dab hand at poetry while England coach Terry Venables co-created the ITV series Hazell.
England's boss has more playing experience than any other. Venables remains the only man to play for England at every level - schoolboy, amateur, youth, under-23 and senior international.
The European Championship started life as the European Nations Cup and was briefly called the Dr Gero Cup.
Anyone expecting to see Jurgen Klinsmann turning out for Germany against the Czech Republic on June 9 is in for a disappointment. Klinsmann is suspended.
ITV commentator Alan Parry was once with the BBC's Match Of The Day. He changed channels in 1984.
Everyone is hoping Euro '96 will be hooligan free. But when the first eight-nation finals were held in Italy in 1980, it was English "fans" that started a riot as Belgium equalised to earn a 1-1 draw.
Germany and Russia hold the record for most final appearances (4).
Some foreign imports go into Euro '96 in better heart than others. Croatian stopper Igor Stimac has just helped Derby County win promotion to the Premiership but Russian stars Sergei Yuran and Vassili Koulkov couldn't prevent Millwall being relegated to Endsleigh League Division Two.
Hakan Sukur hit the big time last summer by becoming the first Turkish footballer to sign for an Italian club. Six months later, Torino transferred him back again.
Pious Italian fans should be happy in Liverpool - the city is unique for having two cathedrals. Scouse wits have suggested two were built in case one got stolen.
The amount of paper being used to brief the media during Euro '96 would stretch for 275 miles.
The official mascot for Euro '96 is a lion nicknamed Goaliath.
Swiss playmaker Alan Suter unfurled a banner before their qualifying match against Sweden protesting against French nuclear tests in the Pacific.
John Helm, ITV commentator, has an unusual party trick - he can recite the names of all 92 League clubs in 26 seconds.
Research suggests that over a quarter of all tickets sold for Euro '96 have been bought by people who rarely watch football.
French, Romanian and Bulgarians fans must have been delighted when their teams were drawn to play at St James's Park. Newcastle was recently voted the 8th Best Party Town in the world.
Belgium and Holland have already been chosen to co-host Euro 2000.
So who will win? Germany are the favourites with bookies at odds of 9-2. You can get 5-1 Holland and Italy, 13-2 England, while Turkey are the outsiders at 50-1.
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|Author:||Earls, Gary Leboff/John|
|Publication:||The People (London, England)|
|Date:||Jun 2, 1996|
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