An English Penalty Defeat to Golden Goal Winners – A Brief History of Women’s Euros Finals

women's euros 2022

In sport as in life, tiny acorns can produce mighty oaks. Almost all the greatest sporting events, from the Olympics to the World Cup, began inauspiciously, with large parts of the world either refusing to participate or paying little interest. And the same is true of the Women’s Euros.

Of course, in the case of omen’s sport, it was not just lack of interest that blighted the early incarnations of what are now major sporting events, but outright hostility and – to be precise – misogyny.

A Brief History of Women’s Euros Finals

An English Penalty Defeat to Golden Goal Winners

Euro 2022 is fast approaching and as part of Last Word on Football’s build-up to the competition, we have decided to look back on previous Women’s Euros finals.

1984 Hosts: No Single Host; Winners: Sweden, beating England on penalties (4-3)

Unlike the Men’s Euros, the Women’s Euros predate the Women’s World Cup, with the first edition taking place seven years before the first Women’s World Cup in China. However, that is probably the best thing that can be said about it, as there was little or no media coverage and, even worse, the matches only lasted for 70 minutes, as women were thought incapable of playing a full 90 minutes.

Read More: Seven Stand-Out Players to Keep an Eye Out for at Women’s Euros 2022

Sweden eventually won on penalties, after the score was tied at 1-1 after the two matches. And for England, it was a first taste of the frustration that would soon become commonplace at both the Women’s Euros and the Women’s World Cup, just as it has for the men’s team in the equivalent male tournaments.

1987 Hosts: Norway; Winners: Norway, beating Sweden 2-1

It says everything about the largely amateurish nature of the early Women’s Euros tournaments that they did not have a fixed schedule and was instead played at seemingly random intervals, whenever sufficient interest (and finance) had been generated.

Thus, just three years after winning the first-ever Women’s Euros, Sweden was back in the final, which this time was at least staged, like the rest of the tournament, in one country. However, Sweden could not retain the trophy.

Instead, it was their Norwegian hosts who triumphed on home soil. Trude Stendal scored both their goals and became an early star of Women’s football, even though she had to combine her playing career with working in a bank.

1989 Hosts: West Germany; Winners: West Germany, beating Norway 4-1

Just two years after the second Women’s Euros, the third edition was played in West Germany, and the pattern established in the second tournament – with the hosts emerging as winners – was maintained, with West Germany comfortably beating defending champions Norway in the final.

This was a first international triumph for the women of West Germany, which of course would become just Germany within a year after the Berlin Wall was torn down. But pretty soon they would be matching their male compatriots by becoming the dominant international side in Europe.

1991 Hosts: Denmark; Winners: Germany, beating Norway 3-1 (after extra time)

The 1991 Women’s Euros were virtually a repeat of the 1989 edition with Germany again beating Norway in the final, although this time around it was a much closer contest. The match was 1-1 after normal time, with the Germans only emerging as winners with two goals in extra time.

Read More: Sarina Wiegman Announces Her Lionesses Squad for Euro 2022

For Norway, 1991 was a year of double disappointment, as they lost both the Euros Final and the first-ever women’s World Cup Final later that year, going down 2-1 to the USA in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The fact that probably the two biggest tournaments in Women’s international football, the Euros and the World Cup, could be staged in the same year is another testament to the poor organisation that bedevilled the women’s international game in its formative years.

1993 Hosts: Italy; Winners: Norway, beating Italy 1-0

Norway gained some revenge for their double disappointment in 1991 by winning the Euros in 1993 in Italy. They defeated the hosts in the Final, with striker Birthe Hegstad scoring the late winner that broke Italian hearts.

Nevertheless, the greatest disappointment was the attendance for the final, a meagre 7,000, even though at the time Italy was undoubtedly the global capital of football. However, the Italian obsession with Calcio had yet to translate into a similar adoration of Women’s football.

1995 Hosts: No Single Host; Winners: Germany, beating Sweden 3-2

It was another setback for the development of the Women’s game, which had historically always been hindered by the hostility of the male authorities, that over a decade after the first Women’s Euros, which did not have a single host nation, the 1995 edition was also played out in various countries.

However, that did not stop Germany from winning their third European title, although they were pushed hard in the final by Sweden.

1997 Hosts: Norway and Sweden; Winn]ers: Germany, beating Italy 2-0

Having not had a host nation at all in 1995, in 1997 the Women’s Euros had two, with Scandinavian neighbours Norway and Sweden sharing the hosting duties. However, both countries fell before the final, in which Germany beat Italy. Thus, Germany retained their title, winning the Euros for the fourth time in total.

Read More: Women’s Euros 2022 Predictions and Best Odds

Indeed, they would go on to win the next four Euros, establishing total domination of European football that even their male counterparts could never achieve. Perhaps even more importantly, the 1997 tournament saw the real emergence of arguably the first genuine superstar of the women’s game, Birgit Prinz, a striker whose sheer lethality in front of goal bore comparison with the great Gerd Muller, the deadliest striker in the history of the Men’s game.

2001 Hosts: Germany; Winners: Germany, beating Sweden 1-0, with a golden goal in extra time

It is tempting just to skip over the next few editions of the tournament, as they were all won by Germany, with Birgit Prinz spearheading their charge. Given that Germany also won the Women’s World Cup twice in the same period, in 2003 and 2007, they are arguably the greatest ever international football team of either gender.

2005 Hosts: England; Winners: Germany, beating Norway 3-1

The last time that England hosted the women’s Euros before this year was in 2005, when interest in women’s football was beginning to grow but was still nowhere near the level seen now. Perhaps that lack of interest from the mainstream media and most male football fans (and, to be fair, many female football fans), translated into the hosts’ disappointing displays, as they failed to make the semi-finals and the tournament was won, once again, by Germany.

2009 Hosts: Finland; Winners: Germany, beating England 6-2

At least by the late noughties, the four-year cycle for the Euros had been established, allowing for interest in the tournament to build over time. However, that growing interest in the Women’s game was somewhat undermined by the continuing domination of Germany. Four years after flopping as hosts, England made the final in Finland but was thrashed by the Germans, with Birgit Prinz scoring two of Germany’s six goals in her last ever appearance at the tournament.

2013 Hosts: Sweden; Winners: Germany, beating Norway 1-0

Even without Prinz, Germany remained too strong for its European rivals. They won an astonishing sixth European title in a row, establishing total domination of their continental championship that has never been matched by any other European team in either the Men’s or the Women’s game.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know Ahead of the 2022 Women’s Euros in England

2017 Hosts: Netherlands; Winners: Netherlands, beating Denmark 4-2

Finally, we come to what might be regarded as Women’s Euros Version 2.0: a tournament that was not won by Germany (who lost to Denmark in the quarterfinals) and that instead was won by the Netherlands. Such was the success of that team and the tournament as a whole that England, who lost to the Dutch in the semi-final, eventually poached their coach, Sarina Wiegman, to oversee their own attempt to win the Euros for the first time this year.