Adidas Questra Europa: Euro1996
Being the first ever colored ball to be employed at an International stage, Adidas Europa was used as the official match ball in the 1996 European Championships which were held in England.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup produced a large amount of goals which added to its popularity throughout the world. While different people might draw different conclusions, UEFA decided that it was the employment of a light, more responsive ball which resulted in more goals in 94’.
Therefore, in the hope that 96’ Euros Championships will see more goals, UEFA requested Adidas to design a ball which is more responsive.
Due to its highly responsive nature, this ball was a nightmare to deal with for the goalkeeper. The ball curled devilishly midair making it impossible for the goalkeeper to predict the trajectory of an incoming free kick.
Another change which Adidas brought in Questra Europa ball was to give it an English touch. Since 1996 European Championships were held in England, Adidas ingrained the logo of English National team on the ball. With 3 lions and roses on each side of the trigon, Adidas did really well to win the hearts of host English fans.
Due to its lightweight nature, this ball was taken whole heartedly by the footballing fraternity. Due to its unrivalled success in the 1996 European Championships, this ball was used in the upcoming Olympic Games and the 1996/97 LA Liga season.
1996 European Championships
While the English faithful remember this tournament due to the goal scoring antics of Alan Shearer, the 1996 European Champions made UEFA aware that it should include more teams in the upcoming versions. It was the first UEFA Euro tournament which hosted 16 teams and looking at its popularity, UEFA decided to retain this number in the upcoming tournaments.
In addition to the usage of a lightweight Adidas Questra Europa ball, another feature of this tournament which differentiated it from its predecessors was the Golden Goal rule. Prior to it, extra time was the norm in International tournaments. However, with the introduction of Golden Goal rule, UEFA epitomized the excitement of football fans.
After fighting their way through the group stages, 8 teams qualified for the knockout round. England were the home favorites and they further increased their stock by defeating Spain on penalties in the quarter-final. However, much to the dismay of local fans, England were defeated on penalties in the Semi-Final at the hands of the Germany.
On the other side, France and Czech Republic were hopeful to meet Germany in the final. Their game was also decided on penalties as the Czech Republic went ahead on a 6-5.
The final of this tournament was played at Wembley Stadium, London. In front of a near-capacity crowd of 73,611, Germany won the game in Extra time after Bierhoff scored the Golden Goal to hand unified Germany their first ever European title.
Adidas Questra Europa Ball was a huge success in this tournament. In the 31 matches of the finals, 64 goals were scored. Moreover, only 4 matches remained as goalless. As a result, it was enshrined to Adidas that its future should lie with lightweight balls.