Winners Cup of the UEFA Under 21 Championship
|Number of teams||55 (total)|
|Most successful team(s)|
The UEFA European Under-21 Championship (also known as the UEFA Euro U-21s) is a football competition for men organised by the sport's European governing body, UEFA. It is held every two years.
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.
Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.
The Union of European Football Associations is the administrative body for association football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe, although several member states are primarily or entirely located in Asia. It is one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.
The competition has existed in its current form since 1978. It was preceded by the Under-23 Challenge Cup which ran from 1967 to 1970. A true Under-23 championship was then formed, starting in 1972.
The age limit was reduced to 21 for the 1978 championship and it has remained so since. To be eligible for the campaign ending in 2019, players need to be born in or after 1996. Many can be actually 23 years old by the time the finals tournament takes place; however, when the qualification process began (2015) all players would have been 21 or under.
The 1978 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, which spanned two years (1976–78) had 24 entrants. Yugoslavia U-21s won the competition.
Under-21 matches are typically played on the day before senior internationals and where possible, the same qualifying groups and fixtures were played out. This was not true for the shortened 2006-2007 Championship.
This tournament serves as qualifier for the Summer Olympics. It has been considered a stepping stone toward the senior team. Players such as 2014 World Cup winner Mesut Özil, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Luís Figo, Petr Čech, 2010 World Cup winner Iker Casillas, 2006 World Cup winners Francesco Totti, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Alberto Gilardino and Andrea Pirlo, and Euro 2004 winner Georgios Karagounis began their international careers in the youth teams.
Association football has been included in every Summer Olympic Games as a men's competition sport, except 1896 and 1932. Women's football was added to the official program in Atlanta 1996.
Mesut Özil is a German professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Arsenal. He is considered to be one of the best players in the world.
Dirk Jan Klaas "Klaas-Jan" Huntelaar, nicknamed The Hunter, is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a striker for Ajax and the Netherlands national team.
Germany are the reigning champions, defeating Spain 1–0 in the 2017 final. The finals of the 2017 competition were hosted by Poland.
The 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Final was a football match that took place on 30 June 2017 at the Stadion Cracovia in Kraków, Poland, to determine the winners of the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The match was contested by Germany and Spain, the winners of the semi-finals.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.
Up to and including the 1992 competition, all entrants were divided into eight qualification groups, the eight winners of which formed the quarter-finals lineup. The remaining fixtures were played out on a two-legged, home and away basis to determine the eventual winner.
The 1992 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, which spanned two years (1990–92), had 32 entrants. Malta and Israel competed for the first time. This was also the first appearance of the unified Germany team. Italy U-21s won the competition.
For the 1994 competition, one of the semi-finalists, France, was chosen as a host for the (single-legged) semi-finals, 3rd place playoff and final. Similarly, Spain was chosen to host the last four matches in 1996.
The 1994 UEFA European Under-21 Championship was the ninth UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The final tournament was hosted in France between 15 and 20 April 1994.
Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
The 1996 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, which spanned two years (1994–96), had 44 entrants. After the quarter-finals stage, Spain were chosen as the hosts of the final stages, consisting of four matches in total. Italy U-21s won the competition for the third consecutive time.
For 1998, nine qualification groups were used, as participation had reached 46, nearly double the 24 entrants in 1976. The top seven group winners qualified automatically for the finals, whilst the eighth- and ninth-best qualifiers, Greece and England, played-off for the final spot. The remaining matches, from the quarter-finals onward, were held in Romania, one of the eight qualifiers.
The 2000 competition also had nine groups, but the nine winners and seven runners-up went into a two-legged playoff to decide the eight qualifiers. From those, Slovakia was chosen as host. For the first time, the familiar finals group stage was employed, with the two winners contesting a final, and two runners-up contesting the 3rd-place playoff. The structure in 2002 was identical, except for the introduction of a semi-finals round after the finals group stage. Switzerland hosted the 2002 finals.
In 2004, ten qualification groups were used, with the group winners and six best runners-up going into the playoff. Germany was host that year. For 2006, the top two teams of eight large qualification groups provided the 16 teams for the playoffs, held in November 2005. Portugal hosted the finals.
Then followed the switch to odd years. The change was made because the senior teams of many nations often chose to promote players from their under-21s team as their own qualification campaign intensified. Staggering the tournaments allowed players more time to develop in the under-21 team rather than get promoted too early and end up becoming reserves for the seniors.
The 2007 competition actually began before the 2006 finals, with a qualification round to eliminate eight of the lowest-ranked nations. For the first time, the host (Netherlands) was chosen ahead of the qualification section. As hosts, Netherlands qualified automatically. Coincidentally, the Dutch team had won the 2006 competition - the holders would normally have gone through the qualification stage. The other nations were all drawn into fourteen three-team groups. The 14 group winners were paired in double-leg play-off to decide the seven qualifiers alongside the hosts.
From 2009 to 2015, ten qualification groups were used, with the group winners and four best runners-up going into the two-legged playoffs.
The 2015 finals was to be the last 8 teams edition, as UEFA expanded the participants to the finals to 12 teams starting from 2017 edition.
On 6 February 2019, UEFA's Executive Committee increased the number of participants to 16 teams, starting from 2021 edition.
Held only three times before it was relabelled by UEFA.
|Year||Host||Final||Losing semi-finalists||Number of teams|
|2–2 / 3–1|
5–3 on aggregate
|2–3 / 4–0|
6–3 on aggregate
|1–1 / 2–1|
3–2 on aggregate
(or third place match)
|Number of teams|
|1–0 / 4–4|
5–4 on aggregate
|0–0 / 1–0|
1–0 on aggregate
|3–1 / 2–3|
5–4 on aggregate
|1–0 / 2–0|
3–0 on aggregate
|1–2 / 2–1|
3–3 on aggregate
3–0 ( p )
|0–0 / 3–0|
3–0 on aggregate
|4–2 / 3–1|
7–3 on aggregate
|2–0 / 0–1|
2–1 on aggregate
( a.e.t. )
4–2( p )
3–1( p )
Serbia and Montenegro
( a.e.t. )
4–3 ( p )
Only under-21 championships are included in the table.
|Team||Winners||Runners-up||Third-place||Fourth-place||Semi-finalists||Total (Top Four)|
|5 (1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004)||2 (1986, 2013)||5||12|
|4 (1986, 1998, 2011, 2013)||3 (1984, 1996, 2017)||2||9|
|2 (2009, 2017)||3 (1978, 1980, 1982)||1||6|
|2 (1982, 1984)||1 (2009)||6||9|
|2 (2006, 2007)||1||2||5|
|2 (1980, 1990)||1||3|
|1 (1978)||3 (1990, 2004, 2007)||3||7|
|1 (1988)||1 (2002)||1||1||1||5|
|1 (2015)||1 (1992)||1||2||5|
|1 (2002)||1 (2000)||1||3|
|2 (1994, 2015)||1||3|
|2 (1988, 1998)||2|
|Part of USSR||×||•||•||•||•||GS||•||•||GS||3rd||•||•||•||•||TBD||3|
|Part of Yugoslavia||×||×||•||•||GS||•||GS||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||q||TBD||3|
|Member of OFC||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||GS||•||•||GS||•||•||•||TBD||2|
|Part of Yugoslavia||×||×||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||GS||•||TBD||1|
|Part of Czechoslovakia||•||•||4th||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||GS||•||TBD||2|
|Part of Yugoslavia||×||×||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||•||q||1|
|Part of USSR||×||•||•||•||•||•||2nd||•||•||GS||•||•||•||•||TBD||2|
The Golden Player award is awarded to the player who plays the most outstanding football during the tournament.
|2015 Czech Republic|
The UEFA European Under-21 Championship adidas Golden Boot award will be handed to the player who scores the most goals during the tournament. Since the 2013 tournament, those who finish as runners-up in the vote receive the Silver Boot and Bronze Boot awards as the second and third top goalscorer players in the tournament respectively.
|Tournament||Golden Boot||Goals||Silver Boot||Goals||Bronze Boot||Goals||Ref(s)|
|2015 Czech Republic||3||2||2|
On 17 June 2015, UEFA revealed an all-time best XI from the previous Under-21 final tournaments.
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The 1986 UEFA European Under-21 Championship was the 5th staging of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The qualifying stage spanned two years (1984–86), had 29 entrants. Spain U-21s won the competition after a penalty shootout, the first in the U-21 competition's history.
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The 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Championship was the 12th staging of UEFA's European Under-21 Championship. The final tournament was hosted by Slovakia from 27 May to 3 June 2000. The tournament had 47 entrants. Northern Ireland competed for the first time. For the first time a finals tournament with two groups of four teams was held, with one of those teams, Slovakia, having been chosen as the hosts. The top four teams in this competition qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
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The 2013 UEFA European Under-19 Championship was the 12th edition of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, since its reclassification from an under-18 tournament in 2002, and the 62nd since the tournament was created in 1948. It was hosted in Lithuania from 20 July to 1 August 2013, in three different cities. Only players born after 1 January 1994 were eligible to participate.
The 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship was the 13th edition of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, an annual football competition between men's under-17 national teams organised by UEFA. The final tournament was hosted for the first time in Malta, from 9 to 21 May 2014, after their bid was selected by the UEFA Executive Committee on 20 March 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.
The 2014 UEFA European Under-19 Championship was the 13th edition of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship since its reclassification from an under-18 event in 2002, and the 63rd since the tournament was created in 1948. Hungary was chosen to host the final tournament, which was staged from 19 to 31 July 2014 in four cities – Budapest, Felcsút, Győr and Pápa. It was the second time that the country held this tournament, having previously hosted it in 1990. Players born after 1 January 1995 were eligible to participate in this competition.
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2013 Under-21 finals top scorers
Golden Boot: Álvaro Morata, Spain – 4 goals, 1 assist
Silver Boot: Thiago Alcántara – 3 goals, 1 assist
Bronze Boot: Isco, Spain – 3 goals
Golden Boot: Saúl Ñíguez (Spain) – 5 goals, 1 assist
Silver Boot: Marco Asensio (Spain) – 3 goals, 1 assist
Bronze Boot: Bruma (Portugal) – 3 goals