"Football's coming home..." so the anthem ran for the summer of 1996. Thirty years of hurt were supposed to end, but England's European Championship campaign started underwhelmingly.
A drab draw against Switzerland at Wembley heightened scepticism over Terry Venables' squad which was already under scrutiny thanks to the dentist's chair. A fortunate win against Scotland followed, complete with Paul Gascoigne paying homage to said dentist's chair after his clincher for the second, but doubt lingered.
Belief palpably generated after the third group game against Holland. The previous year Ajax had won the Champions League with a side that was almost exclusively Dutch, all bred from their famed academy. Only three members of their matchday squad from overseas.
The dentist's chair revisited
The De Boer twins, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids and Edwin van der Sar were all in their early-to-mid-twenties and tipped to dominate football for club and country in the coming years. They had just emerged off the back of a penalty shootout defeat to Juventus in the 1996 final.
And yet England, who had failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, battered the Orange 4-1. Some supporters like to think that the Dutch goal was a gift bestowed to them because it ensured that Scotland didn't qualify for the quarter-finals. Wembley duly cheered when word spread of the 'consolation's consequences.
Nearly 16 years on from the Three Lions' zenith under Venables, it's time to recall that illustrious eleven.
England's starting XI:
The left-handed, right-footed stopper was a double double winner at Arsenal and was first choice goalkeeper at two European Championships and two World Cups under Venables, Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and Sven Goran-Eriksson. Forever synonymous with Ronaldinho after that Shizuoka snafu, he was dropped by Eriksson after a similar blunder in a Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia. Seeing out his playing career at Mancheter City, "Spunky" retired that ghastly ponytail once he hung up the gloves too, and is now divorced for a second time after an affair with his Dancing on Ice partner Frankie Poultney.
"Red Nev" was first-choice right-back for the entirety of his national service until a challenge from Gary Speed in March 2007 effectively retired a trophy-laden career. He played at three European Championships and two World Cups with England, emerging as the de facto leader when he challenged Football Association chief executive Mark Palios' decision to exclude Rio Ferdinand from selection, after he missed a drugs test in 2003.
Forever forthright prior to his retirement a year ago, he now brings that candour and perceptiveness to living rooms, via his Sky Sports pundit role, and newspapers, via a column in the Mail on Sunday.
Tony Adams (captain)
Arsenal's second representative in the 11, Adams retired nearly 10 years ago and has experienced a difficult managerial career. Having started a sports science degree at Brunel University, he became manager of Wycombe Wanderers in November 2003 but was unable to prevent the club's relegation to League Two that campaign. He resigned a year later due to "personal reasons", and was sacked after just 16 games in charge of Portsmouth in 2009. He recently departed as coach of Azerbaijani side Gabala, again due to family reasons, in November last year.
Pizza Hut infamy followed Southgate's Euro 96. His saved penalty against Germany, which allowed Andreas Muller to send Die Mannschaft into the final, led to him appearing alongside Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle in an advert for the fast food restaurant, proving that failure does at least prompt compensation.
He stayed with Aston Villa for five more years before heading for Teesside, where he captained Middlesbrough to the first major trophy in their history with the 2004 League Cup. A three-season managerial stint between 2006-2009 however ended with relegation and he was dimissed two months into their Championship campaign. Now the FAs Head of Elite Development working alongside Trevor Brooking, he is also a pundit for ITV Sport.
"Psycho" retired in 2002 after helping Manchester City gain promotion to the Premier League. He remained as a coach at the club until March 2005, when he stepped in for the departing Kevin Keegan, seemingly on an interim basis. However just one defeat from nine games saw him offered the job, which he fulfilled until his dismissal two years later. England Under 21 coach since 2007, Pearce has overseen three tournaments with England's youngsters. Now in caretaker charge of the full national side, he will also coach the Great Britain Olympics football team at London 2012.
Eleven Lions. Back row (left to right): Paul Ince, Steve McManaman, David Seaman, Gareth Southgate, Alan Shearer. Front row (left to right): Gary Neville, Paul Gascoigne, Teddy Sheringham, Tony Adams, Stuart Pearce, Darren Anderton
Sicknote. That's what Darren Anderton was synonymous with and nicknamed during an injury-ravaged career. A silky midfielder, the ex-Tottenham man was reduced to just 30 caps with England, scoring seven goals, including a ferocious volley against Colombia at the 1998 World Cup. He ended his career back on the south coast with Bournemouth, when he scored the winning goal against Chester City with another volley in the 88th minute as a second half substitute. He has largely slipped out of the mainstream in retirement, making the sporadic appearance on Sky's Soccer Specials.
Described by one-time team-mate Eric Cantona as "possibly the best midfielder in the world", Ince was England's man-o'-war and the first black player to skipper the national side. His honours roll started and ended with seven trophies in six seasons at Manchester United, but Ince featured at two successive World Cups and European Championships with his country.
A success during a two-year stint in Milan with Internazionale, he returned to England to play for Liverpool, Middlesbrough and helped Wolverhampton Wanderers to Premiership promotion in 2003. An auspicious managerial career that began at Macclesfield Town and led on to Milton Keynes Dons was curtailed when he was sacked after just six months as Blackburn Rovers boss. The self-named "Guv'nor" is back on the pundit's sofa for ITV after he was fired by Notts County following a nine-game losing run. It was he who won the penalty to start the scoring against the Dutch at Wembley.
Bobby Robson described Gascoigne "as daft as a brush". That was an understatement. Gazza was the kind of man who would ask to be substituted early so that he could join Chris Evans and Danny Baker for a night out in London. While still wearing his match kit. A flawed genius who has battled against alcoholism, depression and drugs, that free-kick against Arsenal and the goal against Scotland Gascoigne are buried beneath a series of struggles; he said that his lowest ebb was snorting cocaine and drinking a litre of gin a day.
During a stint in the Priory in 2008, he reportedly refused to eat any food and smoked 60 cigarettes a day. Bizarrely present during Raoul Moat's stand off, he told Real Radio: "I brought him (Moat) a can of lager, I brought him a fishing rod cause I heard he’s by the river." It was as sad as it was funny. He recently received £68,000 from Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers amidst the phone hacking scandal, but his well-being has scuppered any chance of a career within football, for now.
An exciting winger when he emerged in the early 90s, McManaman was hailed along with Ryan Giggs as the pioneers of an exciting new era for British football. He was prominent at Euro 96, but at Euro 2000 was dropped despite a scoring start in the defeat against Portugal and only played 17 minutes at the 98 World Cup, as a substitute for Paul Scholes against Colombia. Despite enviable talent, McManaman was one of the infamous Spice Boys at Liverpool and his career is tainted by the all style and no substance era the club experienced under Roy Evans' reign. A childhood Evertonian, he left L4 after nine years and two domestic cups for Real Madrid, where he won two European Cups, before returning to England's north-west to finish his career at Manchester City.
He has been active in various media roles since 2005, but is currently Setanta Sports US' main co-commentator alongside Ian Darke, covering Premier League, FA Cup and Major League Soccer games. Together with Robbie Fowler, he has invested in several racehorses through a company named The Macca and Growler Partnership.
The craft of the SAS partnership, Sheringham had stiff competition to partner Alan Shearer. The Premiership boasted prolific goalscorers such as Robbie Fowler, Les Ferdinand, Andrew Cole and Ian Wright, but whereas the aforementioned four were goalscorers, Sheringham revelled in a number 10 role, which allowed Shearer to take the acclaim as he provided the lethal Geordie ammunition.
That peaked against Holland when he netted two goals and assisted Shearer for the sublime fourth goal, feigning a shot to caress the ball to his striking partner. He became a cult figure at Manchester United when he scored the opener in FA Cup and equaliser in the Champions League finals during the crescendo to the 1999 Treble success, but by that point had lost his place in the England side as Michael Owen wowed the world at France 98.
Yet he still went on to influence the Three Lions under Eriksson's reign, proving to be a handy impact substitute. Sheringham equalised against Greece with his first touch in the 2001 World Cup qualifier best remembered for David Beckham's free-kick, and offered classy control at the 1-0 finals win over Argentina. A second spell at Tottenham came during this period before stints at Portsmouth, West Ham and Colchester United, where he ended his career at the age of 42. He has been a noticeable figure on the world poker scene, playing in various competitions worldwide in retirement.
A scorer at four consecutive major finals for England, Shearer is perhaps behind only Jimmy Greaves and Gary Lineker in the country's list of greatest goalscorers. A £15m move to boyhood club Newcastle United on the back of his Euro 96 performances begun a 10-year love affair which saw him surpass Jackie Milburn's record goals haul in his final season. Despite such a prolific career, Shearer only won one trophy, when he was instrumental in Blackburn's 1995 Premiership-winning squad. In 2002 he resisted calls to end his two-year international retirement in order to partner Michael Owen at the Japan and South Korea World Cup, prioritising his club over his country.
Almost immediately out of retirement he landed a role as a BBC pundit, where he has incurred much criticism. He has memorably mistaken David Silva for David Villa, Yakubu for Christopher Samba and Brede Hangeland for David Wheater, and been accused of airing anodyne views but Match of the Day viewers.
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