20 Years On: A Look Back At Euro ‘96
England will go into Euro 2016 this summer with the hopes of a nation on their shoulders. Sentiment will be similar to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, Austria and Switzerland, and Portugal. We will win. Then there was Belgium and Holland before that. We will win. And Euro ’96 in our very own England, where we very nearly did.
It’s exactly 20 years since a major football tournament was held in the country, and true to form it ended in penalty heartache for the Three Lions. We take a look back at the tournament which saw England come the closest they ever have to a European Championship.
Of course, like any other tournament, it started with a song. A song which encapsulated the British spirit and used the competition slogan itself: Football Comes Home…
Football really was coming home, the opening game drew over 76,000 to Wembley to watch England take on Switzerland which saw a late Turkyilmaz penalty see the sides draw 1-1. Of course, we know how significant the penalty kick would be in rounds to come.
It was against Scotland however when England came into their own, and with the magical Paul Gascoigne on the pitch anything was possible – we knew that from six years’ prior in Italy.
Running onto a Pearce through ball, he lobs it over one hapless defender and volleys it into the bottom corner. It was a goal which sealed the game, and one that sent England flying into the next game against the Netherlands, full of confidence. Full of hope.
The knockout stage saw some ghosts lay to rest, Pearce fired England into the Semi-Final with a penalty shootout win over Spain and it was onto the waiting Germany at a packed out Wembley. The Three Lions couldn’t have asked for a better start, top scorer Alan Shearer heading home after just three minutes. The German’s reply came just 13 minutes later and it saw Terry Venables’ men requiring extra time once again.
Shearer, Platt, Pearce, Gascoigne, and Sheringham all tucked away. Then it was sudden death. Andreas Moller, the German captain, was efficient. It was all on Gareth Southgate. He looked nervous. He ran up, and of course we all know the rest. England were out.
Twenty years on, can Roy Hodgson go one step further? Will Gary Cahill or perhaps John Stones tuck that penalty away? We wait and see…