Overall record at finals: Played 3, Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1
Best performance: Group stage in 1988
Most appearances at finals: Pat Bonner, Chris Morris, Chris Hughton, Mick McCarthy, Kevin Moran, Ronnie Whelan, Kevin Sheedy, Ray Houghton, John Aldridge, Frank Stapleton, Tony Galvin - 3
Most goals at finals: Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton (1988) - 1
European Championship high: Beating England in their Euro '88 opener, when Ray Houghton's looping sixth-minute header gave Ireland the perfect start to its first-ever appearance at a major international tournament.
European Championship low: Missing out on qualification for the 1996 and 2000 finals after playoff defeats to Netherlands and Turkey, the latter coming on away goals.
European Championship legend: Ronnie Whelan. Alongside Liverpool teammate Houghton, Whelan controlled Ireland's midfield and scored what would have been the goal of the tournament were it not for Marco Van Basten's famous effort in the final. Whelan's memorable strike came in the second group game against the Soviet Union. He acrobatically volleyed home Mick McCarthy's long throw to open the scoring in the 1-1 draw.
The story so far: The inaugural European Championship brought a taste of disappointment that would characterize Ireland's continental exploits for the next half-century. It lost a two-legged playoff to Czechoslovakia -- failing even to qualify for the qualifying competition. It would be 28 years before the Irish reached their first major finals, but a place at Euro '88 was confirmed only once Scotland's Gary Mackay scored a late winner in Sofia to condemn Bulgaria to second place in qualifying Group 7. Victory over England in the tournament's opening game would prove the major highlight, though a draw with the Soviet Union and a narrow 1-0 defeat to eventual champions Netherlands meant Ireland exited with heads held high. Further qualifying failure followed, with heartbreaking playoff defeats to the Dutch and Turkey ahead of Euro '96 and Euro 2000, the closest the Irish came to the tournament before Giovanni Trapattoni steered the Emerald Isle to this summer's finals.
Qualification: Giovanni Trapattoni's side finished as runner-up to Russia in one of the most keenly contested groups; the top two and Slovakia all enjoyed a spell as group leader at various stages of the campaign, and Armenia's late surge almost saw it earn second place. A heroic 0-0 stalemate in Moscow last September was arguably Ireland's key result, and a playoff berth was secured with a 2-1 victory over rivals Armenia in the final group game at the Aviva Stadium. A favorable playoff draw paired the Irish with Estonia, and a 4-0 away win in the first leg set them up for a first taste of the Euros in 24 years. A 5-1 aggregate win sealed their progress. Robbie Keane was unsurprisingly Ireland's leading scorer in qualifying; his seven goals equaled the totals of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Villa (and Mikael Forssell).
Qualifying record: P10, W6, D3, L1, F15, A7, Pts 21. Beat Estonia 5-1 on aggregate in play-off
Most appearances: Glenn Whelan, Aiden McGeady (12)
Top goalscorer: Robbie Keane (7)© ESPN