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The Home Nation’s Guide: Who You’re Getting Behind?

March 26, 2016

- Grant Whittington

It’s been one of the most successful qualifying campaign in history for the Home Nations with three of the four countries making the European Championships. Both Wales and Northern Ireland will make their debut in the competition in France, with even the Republic of Ireland, the UK’s neighbours sealing a place via the play offs.

It’s going to be a thrilling tournament, and for the first time we’ll have one of our neighbours to cheer on too. But what do you know about the Home Nation’s squads?

Here’s our guide to all three teams and how to get behind them…

England

Nickname: The Three Lions

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Captain: Wayne Rooney

Stadium: Wembley

Domestic League Champions: Chelsea FC

Star Man: Raheem Sterling

National Anthem: God Save The Queen

Odds To Win: 12/1

England will make their ninth appearance in the tournament this summer and will once again be trying to right the wrongs of Euro 96 when they were heartbreakingly knocked out in the Semi-Final against Germany.

The Three Lions aced the qualifying stages winning all 10 of their games becoming only the fifth team in history to do so. Impressive performances against Switzerland showed they are real contenders in the tournament with Rooney scoring an impressive seven during the campaign.

He’ll want to carry that into the tournament itself, whilst Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck will also want to add to their tallies.

The nation itself is of course no stranger to world class football with the Premier League the home of many talents, including many of the players from all the home nations, although England won’t want to be taking a page from current champions Chelsea who have hugely underperformed this season.

Northern Ireland

Nickname: Norn Iron

Manager: Michael O’Neill

Captain: Steven Davis

Stadium: Windsor Park

Domestic League Champions: Crusaders

Star Man: Kyle Lafferty

National Anthem: God Save The Queen

Odds To Win: 250/1

It’s been exactly 30 years since Northern Ireland made it to a major tournament and fans will be heading over to france in their droves to celebrate.

During qualifying Kyle Lafferty was by far their stand out player netting seven during the campaign and it’ll be the first time the Norwich striker gets chance to do it on a European stage. The side only lost once during qualifying, a 2-0 loss to Romania, who finished a point behind the Green and White Army in second.

The majority of Northern Ireland’s stars play in English football with the likes of Paddy McNair playing for Manchester United and the Red Devils’ former star Jonny Evans and West Bromwich Albion.

A lot of owness will be on captain Steven Davis to galvanise his men, just as he did in qualifying if they are going to progress through the Group Stage. It’ll be a tough ask, but Greece did it in 2004, so why can’t the Northern Irish in France?

The nation of course has a proud footballing history, with some of Britain’s best players coming from the nation. Can one of 2016’s squad join the likes of Pat Jennings, Danny Blanchflower, and the late great George Best?

Wales

Nickname: The Dragons

Manager: Chris Coleman

Captain: Ashley Williams

Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium

Domestic League Champions: The New Saints

Star Man: Gareth Bale

National Anthem: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Odds To Win:  70/1

The Welsh have had their fair share of heartbreak in recent years, but one thing is for sure, the late great Gary Speed would have been proud of Wales’ sensational qualifying campaign.

It’s an exciting time for football in the country with the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey two of the best midfielders in Europe, whilst captain Ashley Williams, Wayne Hennessey, and Joe Ledley have all established themselves in the Premier League.

The nation will be relying heavily on those players but if they can play like they did in qualifying, where they beat the number one ranked team in the world Belgium, then they have every chance of causing a few upsets.

With everything the side have been through, and then their rebuilding, no team deserves their place in the European Championships more than them.

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