England’s Euro 96 Heroics: Could They Inspire This Generation to Success?

England’s Euro 96 Heroics: Could They Inspire This Generation to Success?

It may not be something that too many England fans want to admit for fear of jinxing it, but the country is in a decent position at the moment when it comes to international football.

While there have been more lows than highs through the decades, the current situation surrounding the England set-up is pretty positive and – for once – it could be said that we are looking optimistically to the future.

A good position

Of course, the next major event on the international football horizon is the European Championships scheduled to take place in 2021 and it is highly likely that there will be plenty of betting offers to take advantage of between now and then. However, it is intriguing to see how well fancied England are at the moment, with the William Hill football betting section – at the time of writing – offering odds of 9/2 on Gareth Southgate’s men winning the whole competition.

While it should be remembered that anything can happen in tournament football, it is understandable why such conclusions could be drawn. After all, England enjoyed a very positive World Cup experience in Russia, with the side reaching the semi-finals and Harry Kane finishing as the competition’s top scorer. There were also plenty of old ghosts laid to rest, not least England’s notoriously poor record in penalty shootouts. The team has moved forward positively since the World Cup too, with a good showing in the Nations League and comfortable work being made of qualification for the Euros.

Now, before they face the challenges ahead, Gareth Southgate may well be suggesting that his players take some time to sit down in front of ITV. The ITV Hub and ITV4 are showing every game from the classic Euro 96 tournament and it is fair to say that it could offer up plenty of inspiration for the current crop of heroes.

An iconic side

Anyone who witnessed the tournament will have fond memories of the action that played out. Baddiel and Skinner’s Three Lions was the soundtrack to an incredible competition, with the England side bursting with a host of iconic names including Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, David Seaman and Paul Gascoigne.

The team’s journey through the tournament got off to a slow start with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, but it went to a whole new level across the next two famous fixtures. A 2-0 victory against Scotland was lit up by a phenomenal individual effort by Gascoigne, while the whole team shone in a 4-1 win against the Netherlands. England then faced Spain in the quarter-finals of the competition, with a rare penalty shootout win securing their passage into the semi-finals to meet Germany.

The events of the semi-final are of course well known, with Shearer giving England a precious lead which they could not hold on to. At 1-1, the game went to extra time and Gascoigne was famously just centimetres away from snatching the win. Penalties followed and – of course – it was heartbreak for Southgate who saw his effort saved.

Going a step further

Despite the emergence of some very talented players in the years after Euro 96, it has taken England a very long time to reach anywhere near the heights of that tournament again. However, in a way it seems fitting that Southgate has played his role in it.

However, will he be able to take this current side beyond what was achieved in 1996? There are certainly some positive signs that the squad is in a good position, but anything can of course happen. However, the team will be hoping to rekindle the same kind of atmosphere and excitement when their next challenges come around in the future.

By robertc

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