im电竞官网-In the English national imagination, Euro '96 has become compressed and flattened into a parade of victorious tableaux: Ince ready for war, Gazza good as before, Shearer certain to score.
It's always our last glorious summer, the height of the endless sun-bleached Nineties, a time when the national sport encapsulated Britain's ascendancy in music (Blur! Oasis! Pulp! Shed Seven!), art (Damien Hirst! Gavin Turk! Tracey Emin!) and film (Trainspotting! Four Weddings and a Funeral! Dragonheart!).
im电竞官网-And yet what's usually forgotten about Euro 96 is that its joyousness was heightened by how dismal the last few years of English football had been.
Under Graham Taylor, decent and kind as he was, England missed the 1994 World Cup. More seriously, one of the most shameful moments in England's footballing history came on 15 February 1995. England fans rioted during a game against Ireland, tearing up Lansdowne Road's seats and launching them at Irish fans, screaming "Judas" at Ireland manager Jack Charlton.
Then just before the tournament, a trip to China ended in farce: there was infamous dentist's chair episode in Hong Kong on Paul Gascoigne's birthday night out, and a fight between Gascoigne and whoever woke him up from his nap with a slap – Robbie Fowler is the accused – on the flight home caused £5,000.
A tense opening draw against Switzerland didn't help much. A win against Scotland, though, lit the touch-paper. A barmy, balmy few weeks took England to the brink of a first final since 1966.
When Gareth Southgate missed the eleventh penalty of the semi-final shootout against Germany the spell was broken. In Trafalgar Square, 2,000 fans rioted, flipping cars and smashing shopfronts. Three hundred people in Bedford went out looting, and there was a disturbance involving several hundred fans in Swindon. In Shirley, in the West Midlands, people attacked the German supermarket Aldi with bricks.
im电竞官网-But it's that handful of joyous moments which endure: Psycho screaming, Shearer blasting the ball cartoonishly past Edwin Van Der Sar, Gascoigne sending Colin Hendry spinning into the cosmos. Now, though, you can see those moments in context once again.
To help make the Euro 2020 and league football-free months go a little quicker – and, let's be honest, to allow us to swim in the warm, shallow pool of nostalgia – ITV is making all of the games from Euro '96 available to watch on its ITV Hub. These are the games to line up.
Italy 2-1 Russia
im电竞官网-Skip England's opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland and go straight to Italy's Pierluigi Casiraghi and Gianfranco Zola-inspired win at Anfield. Neither country managed to get through to the quarters, but there was a great duel between Andrei Kanchelskis and a quite absurdly beautiful Paolo Maldini. There's also a nice bit where someone catches the ball in the crowd and drop-kicks it back rather than throwing it. Confident.
England 2-0 Scotland
im电竞官网-Like all history, sport is often disconcertingly defined by circumstance and fluke. England were a goal up after Shearer's header, but a rash challenge from Tony Adams on Gordon Durie gave Scotland a penalty. In an alternate universe, McAllister scored it, Gascoigne never got his redemptive moment, and England limped out after a timid draw with Holland. As it was, it was after this game that fans first stayed behind to sing "It's coming home" together. Everything had changed.
France 3-1 Bulgaria
Two years away from their home World Cup, France's team was in flux. Manager Aimé Jacquet defiantly ignored its twin maverick geniuses, David Ginola and Eric Cantona, despite good seasons in England. But what he did have was a 23-year-old Zinedine Zidane. Zizou didn't score against Bulgaria, but he was magisterial nonetheless. Hristo Stoichkov's bullet free-kick for Bulgaria's worth another look too.
Russia 3-3 Czech Republic
A properly pell-mell game. After going 2-0 down Russia fought back to 3-2, before the Czechs, needing to match Italy's result against Germany – they were drawing 0-0 at the time, Gianfranco Zola missing a penalty – managed to find a final equaliser through Vladimir Smicer and sneak into the quarters. Elated, they went back to their base in Preston and partied until 4am.
Croatia 3-0 Denmark
im电竞官网-A half-full Hillsborough saw the pre-tournament dark horses spark into life. Davor Suker's final, effortless chip over Peter Schmeichel might be the best goal of the 1990s, for its sheer, brazen impudence. "," Suker later reflected, "but in the end he got a lob that I would have done if I had been playing on my street."
England 4-1 Netherlands
Obviously. The trauma of the World Cup '94 qualifying debacle was still fresh for some in the England squad. Seaman, Adams, Ince, Platt and Shearer all started in Rotterdam in October 1993, needing a draw to go through but losing 2-0. Over the course of half an hour, all that angst was blown away. Yes, Holland were having one of their regular internal meltdowns, but still.
Croatia 0-3 Portugal
Portugal's Golden Generation was stopped in its tracks by the Czech Republic and Karel Poborsky's staggering lob in the quarters, but topped their group and blew Croatia away to give a hint of what could have been. Two years later, the Portuguese had to watch France '98 at home, seething that a red card for Rui Costa for walking off the field too slowly in a qualifier cost them a place. This game's also remarkable just to see Figo strutting his stuff around Nottingham Forest's City Ground.
Germany 2-1 Croatia
The knockout round games were, on the whole, not classics. The introduction of the golden goal might have had something to do with that: of the seven knockout games, four were decided by penalties, and three after goalless draws. This quarter-final was a proper tussle, though. A comically stupid handball gave Germany a penalty, Davor Suker scored a brilliant piss-taking equaliser, rolling a foot over the ball to feint past Andreas Köpke, before Matthias Sammer got the winner.
England 1-1 Germany (5-6 on penalties)
The mythos of some games can mask quite pedestrian realities, but this semi-final was a genuine epic played at a fizzing pace. Extra time was frantic enough on its own. Darren Anderton, unmarked, hit the post from 10 yards out. Steffan Kuntz had a goal chalked off. Paul Ince cleared another header off the line. Gascoigne's desperate lunge doesn't get any easier to take. And, credit where it's due, Andreas Moller's peacocking strut after hitting the winning penalty is fucking great. For a bonus point, keep an eye out for the group of women in the crowd with a sign reading: 'English girls prefer Seaman to Flowers'.
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