Georgia makes history at EURO 2024, or what I saw in Tbilisi after their win against Portugal

Eugene Ravdin

Eugene Ravdin


On the last day of July 2024, Georgia lost 4-1 against Spain in the round of 16 and waved goodbye to the UEFA EURO 2024. Though this might not sound like a story with a happy ending, the team was in for a red-carpet treatment upon their return to Tbilisi.

The Crusaders entered the tournament as its debutants and biggest outsiders at outright win odds as high as 500/1. Two weeks later they could boast of the first-ever EURO goal, the first-ever EURO draw, and the first-ever EURO win that secured them a round of 16 berth as one of the best third-placed teams.

While inferior in quality of players to most of their opponents, Georgia became the epitome of commitment and pure football passion. Their star attacker Khvicha Kvaratskhelia showed again why he might move from Napoli to PSG soon, and their sensational goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili from Valencia is now one of the hottest commodities on the transfer market.

Georgia struggled against nifty Spain but even if they never make it to this stage again, they will have a match to savour until the end of times. That 2-0 against Portugal has already gone down to Georgian history books.

And I happened to watch this match in Tbilisi.

I went there to speak at the SBC Summit Tbilisi 2024 conference and heard there was a public viewing at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium. I knew I could not miss a chance to watch Georgia play among 20 thousand passionate fans who admire football above all other sports.

Those who have watched the matches that matter at the football stadiums know what fans' hope, fear, and joy look like. It was a heartwarming experience, but it was nothing new apart from six big screens where 22 big men usually run and tussle for the ball.

It was two hours later when we slowly made our way from the stands to the Chavchavadze Avenue, that the true magic began. Oh, I saw so many things…

I saw tens of thousands of people pour out to the streets and march down the roads bringing the traffic to a stall.

I saw miles and miles of traffic jams with smiling drivers not even hoping to get home any time soon.

I saw cars and buses honking at the top of their horns for hours and hours through the night.

I saw an ambulance turn on the siren out of joy, not out of emergency.

I saw bikers revving the hall out of their engines while stationary much to everyone's delight.

I saw someone leaning out of the car window. I saw two persons leaning out of the car windows. I saw three persons leaning out of the car windows. I saw three persons leaning out of the car windows and one more leaning out of the sliding roof.

I saw a lone man jumping on the road and waving his hands.

I saw a man dancing on the road and high-fiving every driver of the cars passing by.

I saw two kids, dancing on the roof of a bus stop.

I saw two kids sprinting down the road and making summersaults.

I saw two kids exchanging lob passes over an eight-lane road.

I saw police not minding all this craziness.

I saw a girl of seven or eight, Georgian flags on both cheeks, interviewed by a local TV in the middle of the road at 2 AM.

I saw thousands and thousands of happy people.

I saw what football can do.

Best EURO debutants

Who won the title at their first appearance

USSR (1960)

Spain (1964)

Italy (1968)

West Germany (1972)

Who made it to the final at their first appearance

Yugoslavia (1960)

Who made it to the semi-finals at their first appearance

Czechoslovakia (1960) – 3rd place

France (1960) – 4th place

Hungary (1964) – 3rd place

Denmark (1964) – 4th place

England (1968) – 3rd place

Belgium (1972) – 3rd place

Netherlands (1976) – 3rd place

Portugal (1984) – no third-place play-off

Sweden (1992) – no third-place play-off

Wales (2016) – no third-place play-off

Review Author

Eugene Ravdin

Eugene Ravdin

Hey! I've been working for the official UEFA website for 18 years as a translator, reporter, editor, and language version editor in chief.


Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs is an e-sports and biathlon enthusiast with years of writing experience about games, sports, and bookmakers.