Stories from the Euro… when Italy qualified for the final because of a coin

Throughout its history, the Euro competition has many strange and funny stories as well. Perhaps the strangest of all is the use of a coin in order to determine the winning team in the match, in the 1968 edition of the tournament. European Nations Cup.

In our lives in general, there are strange and incredible stories, but have you ever used a coin to make a decision? Believe it or not, this simple method played a decisive role in the Euro Championship, determining which team would qualify to face Yugoslavia in the final.

In 1968, the European Championship was held, and it was the third edition in the history of the Euro. Unlike today, teams were invited to participate in the tournament. At that time, it was held in Italy, and Yugoslavia was also invited, along with England and the Soviet Union.

Which team has achieved the most victories in the history of the European Nations Cup?

In the semi-finals of the Euro 68 edition, she faced… Italy The Soviet Union team in the semi-finals; The match was held in Naples under heavy rain, and neither team scored during regular or extra time. Italy was forced to hold out for most of the match with ten players, as its star, Gianni Rivera, was injured in the fifth minute. Substitutions were not allowed in the European Championship at that time.

No time for replay in the Euro

The most logical solution would have been to replay the match, but there was no time for that as the final was scheduled to take place three days later, and therefore the finalist had to be determined by a coin toss, which took place not on the pitch but in the dressing room. For the referee of the match, the German Kurt Tskensker was the referee for that confrontation.

To ensure justice, the referee was accompanied by the captains of the Italian team, Giacinto Facchetti, and the Soviet Union player, Albert Shesternyov. Different sources give different accounts of who exactly went to the referee’s room. Italian player Gaccinto Facchetti indicated that each captain was accompanied by another representative of his country’s national team. There are also reports that Soviet Union coach Mikhail Yakushin and striker Alexander Lenov were present, as Lenov indicated. He later indicated that he had no idea how he ended up there.

Accounts also differ regarding what happened in the locker room. Some say that Tskinsker directly asked Facchetti which side of the coin he wanted to choose, while others claim that the German referee asked in English whether it would be heads or tails, but Shesternyov did not understand the question. So Facetti made his choice quickly.

European Championship 2024

A few minutes later, Facchetti emerged from the tunnel, holding the crowd’s breath before the captain raised his hands in the air, sparking loud celebrations. The coin deprived the Soviet team and its famous goalkeeper Lev Yashin of the dream of reaching the final, after qualifying for it in the first two European Championships.

The Azzurri reached the final against the Yugoslav national team, and the irony is that the draw decided the match against Italy and Yugoslavia in the final as well, but the regulations regarding the final were different from the semi-finals, where after a draw (1-1) for 120 minutes, it was decided to replay the match.

Italy wins Euro 1968

With neither side able to break the deadlock, the final was replayed; They had to meet again two days later, and the hosts won the second leg with a score of (2-0) in the match that was held at the “Olympico” stadium, so that Italy obtained its first title in the Euro, an achievement they repeated only in the last edition in 2021.

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