In the 1983/84 Serie A campaign, Michel Platini had guided Juventus to the Serie A title with his 20 goals from 28 league appearances. He was also instrumental in helping the Old Lady to a triumphant campaign in the Cup Winners’ Cup. The Frenchman’s stupendous performances were enough to see him win his second successive Ballon d’Or, and as a consequence, he headed into the 1984 European Championship, hosted by France, full of confidence.
However, the kind of display that Les Bleus, and especially Platini, put in at the tournament has become legendary, and also hard to replicate for any players since. The French captain went on to score nine of France’s 14 goals in a title-winning campaign, which was also the first major trophy that France won.
France started the eight-team tournament in Group 1, and won their first match 1-0 against Denmark courtesy of a Platini strike in the 78th minute of the match. Les Bleus faced Belgium in their second group match and shellacked the Red Devils 5-0 in a ruthless display of attacking football. Platini went on to grab a hat-trick, with a spot kick sandwiched between the fourth minute opening strike and an 89th minute goal.
In their last group game against Yugoslavia, France headed into the break 1-0 down, but came into the second half with intent and Platini was back at his best pulling his team level in the 59th minute. Three minutes later, he had put the hosts ahead and by the 77th minute he had completed his second successive hat-trick – still a tournament record – and put the game beyond Yugoslavia, who pulled one goal back towards the fag end of the match which only served the purpose of reducing the losing margin.
Michel Hidalgo’s men topped the group with nine points and were up against Portugal in the semi-final, and with a 1-0 lead, were headed towards the final until the 74th minute, when Jordao struck to bring the scores level to force the match into extra time. Jordao then put his team ahead in the 98th minute before Jean-Francois Domergue scored his second of the match to bring the scored level again.
With the match heading into the penalties, Platini rose to the occasion again and struck in the 119th minute to put Portugal out of the tournament and drag the hosts to the final. It was the eighth time he had struck in four matches!
The final saw France and 1964 European champions Spain go head-to-head at the Parc des Princes. And true to form, Platini put France ahead in the 57th minute following a scoreless first half. Bruno Bellone struck in the 90th minute to put the result beyond doubt and help France become the champions of Europe for the first time in history.
Platini ended the tournament with a record nine goals, which still remains a record at the European Championship. In fact, no other player has even managed five in a single edition of the continental championship.
As France hosts the tournament this summer, Platini’s will be a great example to follow for so many of the talented youngsters in the French squad.