IAN LADYMAN: Let’s do this for all the England players who’ve gone before! Gareth Southgate’s side must push on to recognise the efforts of those who have given so much for so little down the years
- England will face Denmark in their semi-final clash at Wembley on Wednesday
- Similarities between Euro 96 and Euro 20 have been drawn ahead of the game
- Southgate says that players including Glenn Hoddle have been in touch with him
- While the like of Beckham have served as inspiration for England’s current group
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
When Stuart Pearce looked back on Euro 96 recently, he said: ‘There were wider issues that made it special to be part of. Our success seemed to create a moment of national catharsis.’
The former England captain added: ‘It was an event which allowed us to feel good about ourselves for a little while, to abandon ourselves to a happy kind of patriotism.’
Twenty-five years on — as we continue to slog across Covid’s uncertain and unpredictable landscape — it is easy to recognise parallels before England take on Denmark in Wednesday’s Wembley semi-final.
When Stuart Pearce looked back on Euro 96 he said: ‘It was an event which allowed us to feel good about ourselves for a little while, to abandon ourselves to a happy kind of patriotism’
Whatever happens, we have all allowed football to fix us this last month, at least for a while. There are other reasons to look back across the decades, too. For while passage to a major final this evening — if Gareth Southgate’s team manage it — would be an achievement that belonged to this generation of players, it would not only be for them.
It would be for the country, of course. And for the supporters who have invested literally and emotionally in so many disappointing summer tournaments since we last reached a final in 1966.
But, more than that, this would present our sport with an opportunity to recognise the efforts of those who have given so much for so little down the years.
Twenty-five years on – as we continue to slog across Covid’s uncertain and unpredictable landscape – it is easy to recognise parallels before England take on Denmark on Wednesday
England will face Denmark on Wednesday night in their Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley
Since Sir Alf Ramsey’s team walked off the old Wembley turf 55 years ago towards a winner’s banquet they were forced to share with the defeated Germans but, strangely, not their wives, a total of 437 players have pulled on an England shirt.
Some of the more recent ones, such as David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, have served as inspiration and idols for Southgate’s current group. Southgate himself revealed recently that his own hero as a kid was Bryan Robson.
Those three players themselves have stories to tell. A massive 325 caps between them, 15 summer tournaments and almost as many injuries and tears. Players like that could not have given much more.
Neither could someone like Peter Shilton — 125 caps — nor Alan Shearer nor, going further back, players like Terry Butcher, famously bloodied in battle during a World Cup qualifier against Sweden in 1989.
And then there is Viv Anderson, England’s first black player. The rakish Manchester United and Arsenal defender played for England at a time when he knew many on the terraces did not want him, felt threatened by him, despised him.
Had Anderson and subsequent other black players not battled through, would Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker be able to play free of such ignorance and venom on Wednesday?
If they were to win Euro 2020 it would be for the supporters who have invested literally and emotionally in so many disappointing summer tournaments
The victory this summer would also present our sport with opportunity to recognise the efforts of those who have given so much for so little down the years
English football history can be traced through a number of significant, memorable moments. But the kind of opportunity that stands before Southgate’s players over the coming five days is not one that has been forged only by them.
‘There’s no doubt we are the fortunate ones now who are in the position to play and be involved in the games,’ said Southgate on Tuesday.
‘But we’ve spoken a lot about the legacy and the players who have gone before us. So many exceptional role models, exceptional players, incredible individual achievements.
They all had the same level of passion as these players have for playing for their country and we’ve learned a lot from their near misses and the things that didn’t quite go as hoped.
‘Without a doubt we are in a privileged position and it has been great to get so many messages from former players and former managers. Glenn Hoddle has been in touch with me, for example.
‘We are part of a family and a line of people who have a very special experience. Without a doubt the boys should recognise that and I think they do in fairness.’
The likes of David Beckham (right) and Wayne Rooney have served as inspiration and idols for Southgate’s current group
Southgate himself revealed recently that his own hero as a kid was Bryan Robson (left)
It is easy to sweep quickly across half a century of English football and dismiss it as unspectacular. Much of it was. Equally, there were teams that deserved better.
Ron Greenwood’s 1982 World Cup team went home from Spain without losing a game. Sir Bobby Robson’s version was denied unfairly four years later by Diego Maradona.
Hoddle managed a team that could have gone deep in 1998 had Argentina not been thrown in their way unfeasibly early in the tournament.
Funnily, Terry Venables, the manager in 1996, outlined ahead of that tournament a desire to implement an English football structure that would propel the national team forward for years. Venables spoke, for example, of creating a clear pathway for players from age group success at under 18 and under 21 levels through to the senior side.
You could argue that it has taken until now for that to happen.
Time will tell if we have truly reached that point but it feels as though we have and only the Danes stand between young players such as Saka, Phillips and Phil Foden from completing that journey unfeasibly early this weekend.
Southgate says several former players including Glenn Hoddle have been in touch with him
In his recent book Never Stop Dreaming, Pearce says that Euro 96 defined him. The same could now happen to those on Southgate’s watch during Euro 2020. Maybe, with victory over Germany it already has.
But England footballers carry those legacy numbers on their jerseys for a reason. It is a way of recognising not just what they are but also those who have passed before.
The history of the English football team is not just about Banks, Moore and Hurst or Gascoigne and Shearer and Pearce. It is about all those who have dirtied their knees and bloodied their noses in between.
Success in Euro 2020 would not just be for us. It would be for them, too.
PREVIOUS ENGLAND PLAYERS
125 caps Peter Shilton
120 Wayne Rooney
115 David Beckham
114 Steven Gerrard
107 Ashley Cole
106 Frank Lampard
90 Bryan Robson
89 Michael Owen
86 Kenny Sansom
85 Gary Neville
84 Ray Wilkins
81 Rio Ferdinand
80 Gary Lineker
79 John Barnes
78 John Terry, Stuart Pearce
77 Terry Butcher
75 Joe Hart, David Seaman
73 Sol Campbell
66 Tony Adams, Paul Scholes, Raheem Sterling
65 Dave Watson
63 Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer
62 Emile Heskey, Emlyn Hughes, Chris Waddle, Jordan Henderson, David Platt
61 James Milner, Ray Clemence, Gary Cahill, Bobby Moore*
59 Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Phil Neville, Peter Beardsley, Des Walker, Martin Peters*
58 Alan Ball*
57 Jermain Defoe, Paul Gascoigne, Gareth Southgate
56 Joe Cole
54 Glen Johnson
53 Glenn Hoddle, Gareth Barry, Paul Ince, David James
52 Trevor Francis
51 Teddy Sheringham
50 Phil Neal
48 Colin Bell
47 Theo Walcott, Trevor Brooking, John Stones
46 Gary Stevens, Mick Channon
45 Eric Dier, Marcus Rashford, Mark Wright
43 Martin Keown, Chris Woods
42 Danny Welbeck, Owen Hargreaves, Mick Mills, Tony Woodcock, Phil Thompson, David Batty, Steve Coppell, Peter Crouch
41 Paul Robinson, Geoff Hurst*
40 Phil Jagielka, Gordon Banks*
39 Nicky Butt, Ashley Young
38 Jamie Carragher
37 Steve McManaman, Dele Alli
36 Trevor Steven, Wayne Bridge, Graeme Le Saux, Jordan Pickford, Shaun Wright-Phillips
35 Paul Mariner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Harry Maguire, Stewart Downing
34 Alan Mullery, Jack Wilshere, Adam Lallana, Michael Carrick
33 Kieron Dyer, Ian Wright, Ross Barkley
32 Mark Hateley, Bobby Charlton*
31 Chris Smalling, Kieran Trippier
30 Viv Anderson, Darren Anderton, Leighton Baines
29 Danny Rose, Jesse Lingard
28 Roy McFarland
27 Phil Jones, Francis Lee, Trevor Cherry, Colin Todd
26 Neil Webb, Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Joleon Lescott, Robbie Fowler
25 Keith Newton, Terry McDermott
24 Steve Hodge, Martin Chivers, Paul Madeley, Norman Hunter*
23 Wes Brown, Brian Labone, Nicky Barmby, Nigel Martyn
22 Declan Rice, Darius Vassell, Lee Dixon, Gary Pallister, Peter Barnes
21 Aaron Lennon, Paul Merson, Ledley King, Jermaine Jenas, Rob Lee, Dennis Wise, Matthew Upson, Jadon Sancho
20 Terry Fenwick, Terry Cooper, Fabian Delph
19 Danny Mills, Mason Mount, Peter Storey, Ryan Bertrand, Paul Parker, Allan Clarke, Alan Smith
18 Brian Greenhoff, Carlton Palmer, Scott Parker
17 Jamie Redknapp, Tony Currie, Ray Kennedy, Graham Rix, Les Ferdinand, Alvin Martin, Steve McMahon
16 Gary Mabbutt
15 Tony Dorigo, Stuart Pearson, Andy Cole, Roger Hunt*
14 Nathaniel Clyne, David Rocastle, Sammy Lee, Malcolm MacDonald, Nigel Clough, Luke Shaw, Luther Blissett, Ben Chilwell
13 Peter Reid, Micah Richards, Steve Bull, Tyrone Mings, Andros Townsend, Kalvin Phillips, Tom Cleverley, Ian Smith, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Darren Bent, Jack Charlton*
12 Dave Watson, Trevor Sinclair, Bob Latchford, Michael Keane, Adam Johnson, Gerry Francis, Andy Sinton, Rob Green, Ray Wilson*
11 Russell Osman, Peter Withe, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tim Flowers, Rickie Lambert, Joe Gomez, Tommy Wright
10 Gordon Cowans, Jack Grealish, Michael Duxbury, Harry Winks, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ray Parlour, Kieran Gibbs
9 Danny Murphy, Steve Stone, Jack Butland, Geoff Thomas, Kevin Beattie, Rodney Marsh, Andy Carroll, Joe Corrigan
8 Rob Jones, Ben Foster, Alan Devonshire, Kerry Dixon, Mike Summerbee, Mark Chamberlain, Matt Le Tissier, Phil Foden, Dave Thomas, James Ward-Prowse, Jonathan Woodgate, Lee Sharpe, Frank Worthington, Andy Johnson, Kieran Richardson, Kevin Phillips, David Johnson, Nobby Stiles*
7 Tony Daley, Gary Stevens, David Bentley, Stephen Whitworth, Jake Livermore, Andy Hinchcliffe, Bukayo Saka, Carlton Cole, Reece James, Jude Bellingham, Nick Pope, Luke Young, Tony Cottee, George Cohen*
6 Laurie Cunningham, John Gregory, Tony Morley, Graham Roberts, Joe Royle, Steve Williams, Gordon Hill, Brian Talbot, Jonjo Shelvey, Tammy Abraham, Dennis Tueart, Fraser Forster, Peter Bonetti*
5 Stan Bowles, Cyrille Regis, Clive Allen, Jeff Astle, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Martin Dobson, James Beattie, David Nish, Mike Doyle, Conor Coady, John Salako, Dave Clement, Chris Powell, Paul Walsh
4 Callum Wilson, Bob McNab, Keith Weller, Cyril Knowles, Scott Carson, Chris Lawler, Dion Dublin, Peter Osgood, David Sadler, Peter Taylor, Ugo Ehiogu, Alec Lindsay, Tom Huddlestone, Peter Thompson, Steve Howey, Larry Lloyd, Michael Dawson, Ralph Coates, Mike Pejic, Ian Walker
3 Michael Gray, Paul Bracewell, Keith Curle, Jack Rodwell, Danny Drinkwater, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Paul Stewart, Danny Ings, Brian Deane, Gordon West, David Armstrong, Jason Wilcox, Tom Heaton, Aaron Cresswell, Ricky Hill, Gabriel Agbonlahor, David Hirst, John Scales, Earl Barrett, Warren Barton, Ollie Watkins, Steve Foster, Tony Towers, Tim Sherwood, Stan Collymore, Garry Birtles, Derek Statham, Ian Gillard, Calum Chambers, Paul Reaney, Jimmy Greaves*
2 Kevin Reeves, Alan Kennedy, Brian Kidd, Stuart Ripley, Nicky Shorey, Mick Harford, Frank Lampard Sr., Kevin Hector, Gary Bailey, Paul Konchesky, David Bardsley, Mark Barham, Nigel Winterburn, Gary Charles, Stephen Warnock, Danny Thomas, John Fashanu, Leon Osman, Michael Thomas, Alan Hudson, Wilfried Zaha, Dave Beasant, Richard Wright, Ben Godfrey, Bobby Zamora, Stephen Hunt, Ben White, Barry Venison, James Tarkowski, Colin Viljoen, Eric Gates, Colin Cooper, Zat Knight, John Radford, Steve Bould, Ian Callaghan*
1 Paul Goddard, Alex Stepney, Mark Walters, Andy Gray, Mel Sterland, Peter Ward, Phil Boyer, Lewis Dunk, Chris Kirkland, Alex McCarthy, John Richards, Tony Brown, Peter Davenport, Kevin Richardson, Joey Barton, Michael Ricketts, Jimmy Rimmer, David Nugent, Steve Guppy, Fraizer Campbell, David White, James Maddison, Colin Harvey, Ryan Mason, Lee Bowyer, Fikayo Tomori, Ian Storey-Moore, Martin Kelly, Trevor Whymark, David Dunn, Lee Hendrie, Alan Sunderland, John Ruddy, Dean Ashton, Chris Sutton, Michael O’Grady, Neil Ruddock, Mason Greenwood, Nathan Redmond, Francis Jeffers, Steven Caulker, Harvey Barnes, John Hollins, Carl Jenkinson, Brian Little, Phil Parkes, Dean Henderson, Ryan Shawcross, Alan Thompson, Anthony Gardner, Sam Johnstone, Jack Cork, David Unsworth, Dominic Solanke, Steve Perryman, Jay Rodriguez, Michael Ball, Lewis Cook, Mike Phelan, Tommy Smith, Kevin Davies, Gavin McCann, Charlie George, Brian Marwood, Nick Pickering, Nigel Spink, Jon Flanagan, Jeff Blockley, John Gidman, Jay Bothroyd, Seth Johnson, Danny Wallace, Brian Stein, Matt Jarvis, Mick Jones, Nathaniel Chalobah.
Compiled by WILL JEANES
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