With England recently reaching the impressive milestone of 1,000 international games we thought we’d take a look at the highs and lows along the way, from penalty shoot-out heartbreak to dancing on the famous Wembley turf.
We start with highs of the 1966 World Cup campaign. England progressed through a tough Group A, beating both Mexico and France 2-0 and getting a point against a tough Uruguay side at Wembley. Roger Hunt bagged three goals, and Bobby Charlton scored one as England finished in the top spot.
Another tough South American opponent in Argentina awaited in the quarter-finals and provided a stern test. A superb Geoff Hurst header was enough to seal an important victory for The Three Lions, who had progressed to the last four for the first time in their history.
A Eusebio inspired Portugal awaited in the semi-final. Sir Bobby Charlton gave England the lead after half an hour, before adding a vital second goal with 10 minutes left. A late Eusebio goal resulted in a nervy finish to the game, but England held on to book their place in a mouth-watering final at Wembley against rivals West Germany.
In front of 96,924 spectators at a packed-out Wembley Stadium, England kicked off wearing the now famous red away shirt. West Germany took the lead after 12 minutes through Helmut Haller, before another fantastic headed goal from Geoff Hurst levelled the scores 6 minutes later. The game remained 1-1 for the next hour of play until West Ham United’s Martin Peters popped up on the 78th minute to give England a vital lead. Wolfgang Weber snatched a dramatic equaliser with seconds left of normal time remaining.
The game headed to extra time, and it was England again in the ascendancy. Despite the disappointing last-minute equaliser, The Three Lions’ heads didn’t drop and eventually the infamous Geoff Hurst goal ‘had it, hadn’t’ crossed the line, but the officials gave the goal, and the rest is history as they say. With just seconds remaining, Geoff Hurst raced away to seal an impressive hat trick. They think it’s all over…it is now! England 4 West Germany 2.
England’s failure to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups brought added excitement to Espana 82. It didn’t take long for the celebrations to get underway in Bilbao when Manchester Utd and England’s captain marvel, Bryan Robson scored inside just 27 seconds to give England the lead against France. The Three Lions went on to win the game 3-1, but despite not losing a game, England were sadly eliminated in the second group stage after consecutive 0-0 draws to West Germany and Spain.
Back in 1989, who remembers when England skipper Terry Butcher, aka Captain Blood, played on despite a nasty head injury to help secure world Cup qualification for Italia 90. The England captain led by example and put his body on the line for the country.
At Italia 90, we had plenty of ups and downs including David Platt’s wonder goal against Belgium in the last 16, Gazza’s tears, Gary Lineker’s brace of penalties against Cameroon. Against old foes, West Germany in the semi-final, England endured the lows as the game went to penalties. Misses from Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle sent West Germany through to the final.
It’s coming home
Six years later, England had the perfect chance to redeem themselves as they hosted EURO 96. Not only did the tournament produce one of the best European Championships we’ve seen, but it also led to the creation of one of football’s most famous ever songs, ‘Three Lions (Football’s coming home)” by English band The Lightning Seeds in collaboration with David Baddiel and Frank Skinner.
One of our favourite moments at Euro 96 came in our second group game against our oldest rivals Scotland – the team we faced in our first-ever international match back in 1872. The moment of the game came with just over 10 minutes to go when Paul Gascoigne produced a moment of magic. A lobbed through ball put Gazza on the edge of the Scotland box and one on one with Colin Hendry. The midfield maestro casually lifted the ball over the Scotland defender’s head and volleyed home spectacularly to give England a vital win. The celebration that followed is just as iconic as the goal – Gazza, take a bow.
In the final group game against the Netherlands, England produced one of their finest performances in recent history. England were 4-0 up after just over an hour – football was coming home. A late consolation from Patrick Kluivert put a small taint on an almost perfect England performance – an emphatic victory and definitely one to remember.
Spain were the opponents in the quarter-finals at Wembley which provided England left-back Stuart Pearce, a chance at redemption. Pearce took a deep breath and smashed the ball into the keeper’s bottom left-hand corner – the relief, passion and courage showed by ‘Psycho’ was an iconic moment.
The semi-finals pitted England and Germany again, and the Germans were the designated the ‘home’ side and wore their famous white and black stripe, which meant England had to wear the grey away kit. The Wembley crowd were buzzing with optimism and expectation, and that only grew bigger when Alan Shearer gave England the perfect start after 3 minutes. A corner taken by Gazza was flicked on at the near post before being headed home by the prolific striker. The lead only lasted just over 10 minutes though – a German cross from the left-hand side was converted by Stefan Kuntz at the back post. The game remained 1-1 after 90 minutes and went into a dramatic extra time.
England created the best chances and went extremely close through Darren Anderton, who struck the woodwork. Moments later a superb floated ball by Sheringham picked out Shearer on the right-hand side, who expertly volleyed a perfect looking ball across the face of the goal to Gazza who was ready to tap home. Somehow the ball managed to trickle past Gazza without him getting a vital touch agonisingly. Penalties eventually settled this tie and Germany headed to the final once again.
England see red!
France 1998 saw the exciting emergence of 18-year-old superstar, Michael Owen. He became England’s youngest ever goalscorer at a World Cup when he came on and scored against Romania. It wasn’t long before he doubled his tally with a moment of magic against Argentina. England had a new young superstar. Another future superstar, David Beckham, also made the headlines when he picked up a red card for kicking out at Diego Simeone. The game ended in all too familiar fashion, with England being knocked out on penalties, but the emergence of a bright young talent on the world stage gave fans optimism for the future.
And there you have it, 3Retro’s iconic England moments from the 20th century – check out the official retro shirts that match the memories at 3retro.com
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