The '1st European Tournament for National Representative B-Youth Teams U-16' as it was originally known stretched over 18 months, and began on 26 October 1980 with a goalless draw between Finland and Sweden in Helsinki. Seventy-three games later, hosts Italy were crowned champions.
Twenty-six nations took part the inaugural edition, with eight qualifying groups of between two and four teams. That first pool to begin, Group 2, was an all-Scandinavian affair with Finland pipping Sweden on goals scored - had the Swedes beaten Norway by more than 1-0 in their final game they would have gone through. Scotland, West Germany, East Germany, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, France and Italy also progressed into a two-legged quarter-final round.
Early qualifiers Finland and Scotland met in October 1981, and although the Scots won 2-1 in Lahti, they then fell 2-0 in Ayr to depart on aggregate. The following March Italy drew 2-2 in France and won 3-0 in Falconara, Yugoslavia beat the Soviet Union on penalties after each team triumphed 2-0 at home, and in the meeting of the two Germany sides, West drew 1-1 in the East and won 3-2 at home in Kassel.
The four survivors gathered in central Italy for the final tournament, which in contrast to the affair it was to become lasted two days and consisted of just four matches. In the first semi-final in Falconara, Italy came from behind to draw 1-1 with Finland and won 4-2 on spot-kicks, while later in Senigallia West Germany defeated Yugoslavia 2-1. On finals day in Falconara, Yugoslavia clinched bronze 4-2 on penalties against Finland after a scoreless draw, but the trophy was Italy’s 1-0 against the Germans thanks to a first-half goal.
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