Remember we were about to kick off our Euro 2008 campaign against the hosts? The Spanish FA took the unusual decision of locating Spain’s first match in the heart of Catalonia..
Michael Owen continuing his pre-tournament form. He had done this in our final warm up match
Whatever our weaknesses elsewhere, Owen and Notman are established world-class performers. They showed why in our second-group game
With that, we were already through to the Quarter-Finals. Two very good teams comfortably brushed aside…the nation started to dream..
We put out a second-string team for our final group match. David Beckham even got a run-out
Slade (Alan Shearer regen) is a young striker making a name at Chelsea and he showed that the post-Owen future is in safe hands. And yes, CM9798 lovers, that is Tom Youngs still going strong (ish)
Here are the final group standings
It’s a cliche, but there really no easy games amongst the qualifiers (well maybe Scotland)
We’ll take that to be honest. Italy and France are my favourites and Denmark have got a golden generation at the moment.
Holland do have some stars, as you’d expect, but they’ve also got an aging Boudewijn Zenden, Ruud Van Nistelroj in midfield, and a very average defence
Here’s our team. Peter Bradley has had a great season at West Brom and forms a combative midfield pairing with ex-Doncaster stalwart Paul Barrett (now back at Arsenal). We’ve got another Arsenal player, Adrian Middleton, partnering Anderlecht legend Rio Ferdinand at the back.
Paul Scholes is still going strong at 33 and unsung full-backs Pell and Upson give you 7 out of 10 every game. Richard Wright has spent a decade at Man United and marshalls a solid defence
Michael Owen and Newcastle youngster Eddie Pell make the difference, whilst Rio is immense as usual
In other news, Spain crash out on home soil
France are just too good.
Morten Carlsen was missing for Denmark, and they are on the plane home
A comfortable win for Germany, never really in doubt
And so there were 4…
Yep! A rematch of the 2006 World Cup Semi where France played us off the park at Wembley. Hopefully we are older and wiser now..
Quality all over the park. My Anderlecht centre-back Revelles (Desailly regen) is the defensive leader, but that front three are unplayable on their day. They’ve got 139 international goals between them! (Anelka 65, Trez 40 and Kanoute 34).
But, somehow, this was the score at half-time
Wright was having a busy night and the French are putting themselves about.. 5 yellow cards in 45 minutes. There’s only one man for this situation
Just don’t get yourself sent off David.
He did get booked, but we hold on for a shock victory against the pre-tournament favourites. Thanks Wrighty!
We’ve beaten Spain, Holland and France, doing it the hard way, but will it be the Germans or Italians in the final?
<Gulp> Maybe I was wrong about France being the best team on the continent
Here are the teams
Italy draw the core of their team from the dominant Inter side (Constantino, D’Aversa, Torbidoni, Pellegrini, Gennari and Tacchinardi). Their full-backs know all about the English team, having just won the league with Doncaster. The only weakness is their manager. The one, the only, John Toshack?!
Paul Barrett’s suspension means a start for my Chelsea captain Richard Flounders. We’ll be looking to our defence to keep it tight and hoping Owen can keep up his goal a game record in the tournament
A quiet first-half bursts into life after 43 minutes. Paul Scholes plays Michael Owen through on goal, and there is only one outcome
The score remains the same until late in the second half. Until, Andrew Middleton sends Pellegrini sprawling in the penalty area. A nation holds its breath, but the referee inexplicably waves play on! 5 minutes later and it’s all over
The England squad goes down in history!
A fitting swansong for Paul Scholes, level with Gary Lineker in the list of all-time goal scorers
Michael Owen is arguably the finest striker in world football right now
And Rio is peerless at the back
And a shout-out to David too. His best days are behind him but he finishes his England career with a medal (I’m not going to pick him again)
In the post-Euro euphoria UEFA make an odd decision
F****g Morten Carlsen. He was injured for half the season and didn’t win the Euros or the Champions League, but he’s the player of the year again!
No arguments from me about the Belgian awards
Before we go, a quick transfer update. I’ve been saying for a while that my Genoa side lack the real star quality we need to make the next step. Well, no excuses now..
And the big pre-season news? Angered by my decision to drop him from my England Euro 2008 squad, Nicky decided to give it all up and open a pub in Marbella
And Becks went out on a high