For me this was the first international tournament that I ever watched, having gotten into football at the turn of the year. Watching great players such as Davor Suker and Jurgen Klinsmann and emerging talents like Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo playing every day during the balmy evenings of that summer ensured that football would not be just another fad for me; I was forever hooked.
And then there was England. Written off before the competition, Terry Venables’ side started sluggishly with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland before beating Scotland thanks to a wonder goal from Paul Gascoigne – topped off with THAT celebration:
Not understanding that the players were imitating pouring alcohol into his mouth, me and my mates used to copy them in the playground. God knows what the teachers must have thought!
Being allowed to stay up well past my bedtime to watch the entire game including extra time was a big deal to me back then, but the shootout was too much for me. I hid under the covers and couldn’t bear to watch, and when I heard Gareth Southgate’s penalty being saved the dream was over. But the memories still live on, especially every time I hear “Three Lions”.
With England lobbying to host the World Cup in 2018 I for one are hoping that we get the chance to experience the world’s greatest sporting event on our doorstep, especially if I manage to secure myself a spot in the press box for the opening game!