Opera x summer tournament themes = good

Ranking every BBC & ITV Euros opening sequence since 1996 from worst to best

Opening titles and theme songs are a huge part of tournament football. The Champions League theme still brings a tear to the eye of many a die-hard football fan, and all the best summer tournaments become forever adhered to their intro theme in the collective memory.

ITV’s intro for the 2024 World Cup in Brazil was a classic of the genre, and BBC’s Italia ’90 coverage soundtracked by Luciano Pavarotti’s rendition of Nessun Dorma was Oscar-worthy. The Euros have had their fair share of bangers too.

We’re taking a look at every BBC and ITV opening titles theme from 1996 to 2024, ranking them from worst to best. First up, a real stinker from ITV for Euro ’96.

16. ITV: Euro ’96

A shocking effort for a home tournament. Musicwise, it’s a depressing, dour, weird, synthy nod to the national anthem. Visually it’s Autumnwatch meets Oscars In Memorium tribute to actors who have died. Crazy.

15. ITV: Euro 2000

Sounds like the sort of thing that might precede the entrance of a villain in a Disney film. Makes it seem like we might be about to indulge in some evil. Some malevolent football. Some sporting bastardry. Can imagine a Sith lord blaring this through his airpods.

14. BBC: Euro 2008

Have I Got News For You meets First Night of  the Proms. Rubbish.

13. BBC: Euro 2020

This could literally be the intro to an episode of Football Focus, and the music is a mess. The world was literally in lockdown, too—not like the Beeb didn’t have time on their hands. A poor effort, in our opinion. The vibes are off.

12. BBC: Euro 2012

Winter is coming. When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

England look a bit shaky at the back but with a front three of Snow, Stark, and Targaryen, they’re always dangerous on the counter.

11. ITV: Euro 2024

It’s okay, but the animation theme is becoming a little tired and we’ll have forgotten this before the Premier League season rolls around.

10. BBC: Euro 2004

Musically, this couldn’t be more daytime TV quiz show if it tried. Fully expecting Bradley Walsh to pop up as the anchor. Plus points for a giant Sol Campbell just doing a big header in a piazza somewhere at one point.

9. ITV: Euro 2004

It must’ve been a nightmare to put this montage together—taking actual match footage and photoshopping it into various locations around Portugal. In 2004, as well. The internet was still quite young. Fair play.

The music feels a little more World Cup-ish to us, but it’s much better than anything we’ve heard so far on this list. Very summery.

8. ITV: Euro 2012

Claymation Roy Hodgson can’t hurt you. Claymation Roy Hodgson can’t hurt you. Claymation Roy Hodgson can’t hurt you. Claymation Roy Hodgson can’t hurt you. Claymation Roy Hodgson can’t hurt you. Claymation Roy Hodgson can’t hurt you. Claymation Roy Hodgson can’t hurt you.

7. ITV: Euro 2008

There’s just something about opera in a tournament theme. Lends the occasion a certain grandeur befitting of an international football tournament. We mentioned Nessun Dorma earlier, from Puccini’s Turandot, This one is Queen of the Night from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and it does the job.

6. ITV: Euro 2020

The Michael Kiwanuka tune is good, the white dad seeing himself as Kylian Mbappe in the mirror is unsettling.

5. BBC: Euro 2024

Suitably high energy, encapsulating all the big historic Euro moments without retreading over old ground. Feel like this could grow on us.

4. ITV: Euro 2016

Huge fan of this Ratatouille-esque creation. Not a chance you’d get us on a boat with Thomas Muller at the wheel, though. You don’t try to have banter with the sea. The sea is scary.

The music is very chill compared to most tournament themes—less high energy—but it works in context of the tournament. Very French.

3. BBC: Euro ’96

Iconic English football pitches turned into TV screens, classic kits, classic players, a classic tournament, and Beethoven’s Ode To Joy. Truly gorgeous work from the Beeb, here. We used to be a proper country.

2. BBC: Euro 2016

Izzy Bizu singing an updated cover of Edith Piaf’s classic La Foule. The accordion is giving us slight Carnaval de Paris vibes, and that is always welcome, as far as we’re concerned. Into it.

1. BBC: Euro 2000

Perfection. A video sequence that gets you hyped and taps at the nostalgia neurons, Zizou in an oil painting, and a beautiful rendition of Canto della Terra by Andrea Bocelli (who famously sang on the pitch next to Claudio Ranieri when Leicester won the Premier League title.

The standard that all Euro themes should hold themselves to.