Belgium Unlocked

Euro 2000: When Belgium hosted football's greatest tournament ever – in photos

Euro 2000: When Belgium hosted football's greatest tournament ever – in photos
UEFA Chairman Lennart Johansson seen at Ghent's Congress centre. Credit: Belga / Herwig Vergult

At the turn of the millennium, Belgium and the Netherlands co-hosted the UEFA European Championships – more commonly known as Euro 2000. It has been voted one of the best footballing tournaments of all time, with France running away as the winner with a Golden Goal in extra time against Italy.

Football in this period was electric: Zinedine Zidane was at his very best, legendary referee Pierluigi Collina was in his heyday, and David Beckham had a shaved head. Many of those who followed the tournament look back on it with fond nostalgic memories of a different era of football, even if the signs of a changing game were already coming to the fore.

But there was more to the Euro 2000. The tournament was an explosion of colour and style. From the iconic grey and white footballs to the array of new stadiums built in Belgium for the tournament and the questionable fashion choices of the 2000s, some of which are now being revived in 2022.

Despite it having defined this tournament, one thing we do not miss, however, is the Golden Goal rule to decide the winner of a match.

As the World Cup kicks off today to general apathy, let's take a dive into the Belga Photo Archives to uncover how Belgium experienced Euro 2000. 

The opening ceremony of the Euro 2000 tournament at the King Baudouin Stadium, Saturday 10 June 2000, ahead of the Sweden vs Belgium game. Credit: Belga / Benoit Doppagne

We are not quite sure why either, but here is Brussels City Councillor for Sport, Mr Mangain, signing a giant Euro 2000 ball for Belgium. There were 15 other balls, representing each country. Credit: Belga / Virgine Lefour

Belgian fans in Verviers celebrate in a bar as the Belgian team scores against Sweden in the opening match, 10 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Guy Mossay / JC

New seats at the King Baudouin Stadium of Brussels. Credit: Belga / Robert Vanden Brugge

Euro 2000 tournament manager Alain Courtois and Mayor of Charleroi Jacques Van Gompel during promotional events for the tournament. Credit: Belga / Olivier Matthys.

Members of the Turkish community in Liège celebrate during their match against Belgium. 19 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Guy Mossay / JC

Belgian player Geert Verheyen, right, trying to score during the Belgium vs Italy group match, at the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels. Wednesday June 14, 2000 Credit: Belga / Yves Boucau

English fans celebrate outside the stadium after the 1-0 victory for England vs Germany in Charleroi, Saturday 17 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Virgine Lefour

Advert showing iconic Euro 2000 footballs in the shape of the Atomium, on the back wall of the Imax cinema in Brussels. Euro 2000 sponsor Adidas also included high-profile football players of the time, including Luc Nilis, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Alessandro Del Piero. Credit: Belga / Herwig Vergult

Italian referee Pierluigi Collina (right) and Spanish referee Garcia Aranda, training on 8 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Jacques Collet

Yes indeed, this is a ‘TGV Tavern’ near the station of Liège Guillemins. It still exists today! Credit: Belga / Robert Vanden Brugge

Like the Panini sticker album logo, Belgium's Marc Wilmots doing an acrobatic bicycle kick against Turkey, in the last match of group B of Euro 2000. 19 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Robert Vanden Brugge

Shaved-head David Beckham, aka Golden Balls, signs autographs after a training session at La Fraineuse, in Spa, this 14 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Guy Mossay

Aerial shot of sixteen giant Hyundai-sponsored footballs, one for each nation participating in Euro 2000. The event was organised as "a Celebration of European Unity through Football" three days before the start of the tournament. Credit: Belga / Robert Vanden Brugge

We can only wish to be as cool as this guy. Romanian fan with a match ticket in one hand, and passport in the other, as he undergoes searches by security in Liège ahead of Germany vs Romania. Credit: Belga / Guy Mossay

A fresher-faced Prince (now King) Philippe of Belgium at the King Baudouin Stadium with Michel D'Hooghe, Co-president of Euro 2000 tournament, 19 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Olivier Hoslet

Aerial view of the King Baudouin Stadium and Brussels, ahead of Euro 2000. Credit: Belga

Italian fans celebrate in Verviers after beating Belgium, Wednesday 14 June 2000. Credit: Belga / Guy Mossay

They care about football! UEFA Chairman Lennart Johansson announces the Euro 2000 draw during a press conference at Ghent's town hall. Credit: Belga / Herwig Vergult

Players come out of the tunnel, accompanied by mascots for Euro 2000 semi-final France vs Portugal at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, 28 June 2000. France would go on to be crowned champion. Credit: Belga / Baudouin Lenelle

2022 hipster? Nope, it is Belgian Red Devil Gilles De Bilde relaxing after training. Credit: Belga / Daniel William

Charleroi's (at the time) new stadium. Credit: Belga / Robert Vanden Brugge

English fans causing trouble (as usual) in Place Charles II, Charleroi, before the game against Germany. Credit: Belga / Olivier Hoslet

Italy's Filippo Inzaghi and Stefano Fiore (right) getting very close after scoring a goal. 14 June 2000. Credit: Belga

Belgian fans showing their sorrow after the elimination of the national team. Credit: Belga / Oliver Hoslet

Special joint Euro 2000 postal stamp by Belgium and the Netherlands. Credit: Belga / Jacques Collet

We hope you enjoyed this flashback and trip down memory lane. Were you at Euro 2000? Share with us your memories, photos or thoughts on social media or via email: 

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