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Remembering when England mastered the Dutch

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Chris Bevan | 09:59 UK time, Tuesday, 28 February 2012

It is a goal you could probably watch all day. Paul Gascoigne bursts into the box and plays in Teddy Sheringham, who shapes to shoot but wrong-foots the defender, before rolling the ball across to an unmarked Alan Shearer to arrow his shot into the top corner.

"You have to say it's magnificent," was the verdict of veteran BBC commentator Barry Davies at the time, words which still ring true today.

Many of you have probably guessed I am talking about England's third goal in their 4-1 demolition of the Netherlands in their final group game at Euro 96, and most of you will have already seen it countless times already too. If not, please make sure you watch the clip below, it's definitely worth your while.

The reason for this little trip down memory lane is that Wednesday's friendly will see the Dutch make their first visit to Wembley since that balmy June evening 16 years ago.

Bearing in mind how little has gone right for England recently, it seems extremely appealing to look back at a night when pretty much nothing went wrong. Feel free to sing 'It's coming home' while we do so.

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There is a school of thought that this performance against Guus Hiddink's side was over-rated, but it is far more difficult to question the assertion that this result remains England's finest at a major tournament since 1966.

And while it was by no means as straightforward a win as the scoreline suggests, it still triggered euphoria inside the stadium and right across the country, bringing on a feelgood factor which is about as far removed as you can get from the current uncertainty and unease surrounding the national team.

Shearer, who along with Sheringham scored two goals that night, recalls savouring "one of the best atmospheres of any game I've ever played in" as 77,000 fans celebrated goal after England goal.

Davies, who has covered 10 World Cups, seven European Championships, and countless England internationals during a broadcasting career that will also take in the hockey tournament at this summer's Olympics, told me this week that he has "never seen a Wembley crowd so delighted".

That might have been because even when the Dutch scored their late consolation, the home fans could smile because it meant their old foes Scotland would be eliminated.

But if we are going to revisit one of England's finest hour-and-a-halfs, we should at least admit they did not have things all their own way.

With England leading 1-0 through a Shearer penalty earned by Paul Ince's quick feet, the Dutch piled on the pressure in the build-up to the break.

In his match commentary, Davies said England would be "happy to hear an early half-time whistle" and looking back now, he remembers thinking the worst as Dennis Bergkamp, Aron Winter and Clarence Seedorf all threatened.

"There are lots of similarities with our 5-1 victory five years later in Germany," Davies explained. "In that game, Germany were incredibly unlucky not to be in the lead at half-time but suddenly it all went away from them."

That is exactly what happened to the Dutch after the interval too, although let's give credit to Terry Venables and his players here for the way the goals flew in.

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"The second half was just extraordinary," says Davies now. "It was as good an 11 minutes as I have ever seen England play.

"Shearer's second really was a quite stunning goal. Paul Gascoigne was instrumental in it and Sheringham was so unselfish. The best things in any ball game where goals are scored come when it is moves like that which create the opening. For me that is always a better goal than if someone just thumps it in from 35 yards.

"Venables just got the best out of that team. He was relaxed in letting people play their own game and built a side around those skills rather than the other way around."

The heady days and nights did not last. We all know how England's adventure ultimately ended that summer - in the semi-finals, and in a penalty shoot-out after a compelling clash with Germany.

But not even a disappointment of that magnitude could shake the feeling that it had been a very special tournament, and maybe a slice of the spirit of Euro 96 can help the current team progress as far in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

We might see some of it on display at Wembley on Wednesday, although it seems unlikely that stand-in manager Stuart Pearce will manage anything from the touchline that will outdo his famous battle cry during the penalty shoot-out win over Spain in the quarter-finals.

Giving some belief back to the fans would be a start, although Shearer knows it will almost be impossible to recreate the kind of the support they received when he was a player rather than a BBC pundit.

"Those were great days, with 80,000 fans behind us in every game of the tournament, backing us all the way," Shearer added. "We thought we could go on and win it, but it wasn't to be.

"Trying to get the same belief and confidence from the supporters now is more difficult. A lot has happened with England in the last 16 years, and in fact a lot has happened with England in the last month.

"I am sure the players will just want to get out on the pitch again and try to put in a performance that will get everybody talking about England for the right reasons again, preferably with another positive result."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    As a Scot, wasnt too gutted that England got beaten by Germany in the semi's!!
    But in reality England had many chances to win that game both in normal and extra time. Remember Gazza's miss from 2 yards as he slid in on goal?
    Different times now though. Holland seem settled now, unlike in the 90's, and England experimenting with new players. Hope its a good game.

  • Comment number 2.

    good bit of nostalgia

    shame we're cr@p now

  • Comment number 3.

    I remember it well.

    That day we had leaders and characters all over the pitch. Paul Gascoigne was a unique talent. Shearer was ruthless and strong. Sheringham was the ultimate pro. Ince, Pearce, McMannaman, Anderton..the list is a who's who of world class players all playing at their very best.
    Fowler on the bench.

    Even if we turned out our 1st team tomorrow, which isn't going to happen, who would be on that list that could genuinely get into the class of '96 team ?

    Hart is the only one I can think of.

  • Comment number 4.

    Pity David Seaman couldn't keep his legs shut and not conceed that last minute consolation and Scotland would have went through!

  • Comment number 5.

    1.
    At 11:30 28th Feb 2012, bigfak wrote:

    As a Scot
    _________________________________

    Best goal against the Dutch....Archie Gemmell in WC 78.
    Remember it well :)

  • Comment number 6.

    Barry Davies. Best commentator ever. Over shaddowed by the woeful Motson and now they've decided to use a news reader instead of a sport commentator at the Ceremonies for the Olympics. Poor decision all round.

  • Comment number 7.

    Spain scored a perfectly good disallowed goal before the penalty shoot out
    As did Germany
    Switzerland gave England a tough game in the opening game of the tournament

  • Comment number 8.

    Awesome performance that day. We were truly top class for that game. It glossed over we were actually very average for that tournament other than this and against Germany. Still, always nice to look back on days when we were good. Don't see much of it nowadays.

  • Comment number 9.

    Massive night out the night before, as they all were considering we had all graduated a few days prior. Two overriding memories, one was laffing so hard as it was so wrong and going out after. At least I think it was the same night.

    Really it all came together that game, all the players did as they should have done. In fact they probably played as the Dutch team should have.

    Apart from the 5-1 in Germany and Denmark and Argentina at the World Cup in 2002 it has been poor since.

  • Comment number 10.

    But the future looks bright i think.
    Goalkeeper- Hart
    Defenders- Jones,Walker,Smalling,Richards,Cahill
    Midfielders- Wilshere,Cleverly,Rodwell
    Wingers- Walcott,Johnson,Young
    Strikers- Rooney,Welbeck,Sturridge

  • Comment number 11.

    I've always considered the 4-1 win - and indeed England's performances throughout that tournament and under Venables in general - to be overrated.

    The Netherlands were a poor team who still managed to equal or better us for the vast majority of the game. Only during that crazy ten minute spell did England dominate.

    England only actually won 40% of their games during Euro 96, struggling to break down average sides like Switzerland and Spain, and eventually succumbing to a Germany team that was in decline.

    Certainly those performances against Switzerland and Spain didn't differ too much from the many underwhelming friendly matches we'd seen in the two-year build-up to the tournament. I really don't think most other managers would have had it as easy as Venables did from the media.

    However, all of that said, the feel-good factor around the country during the tournament was undeniable, and watching those clips fills me with a warm, nostalgic feeling.

    It's also noticable that the Euro 96 squad had some real personality. There were characters and leaders all over the pitch. Contrast with the England sides we've seen since, and there has been a gradual shift away from this. The same is true of football in general, and is something that has been covered from all angles many times over, but the further away we get from Euro 96 (which really wasn't that long ago at all!), the more it feels like the swansong of an entirely different footballing age in this country, for better and for worse.

  • Comment number 12.

    Let's be honest, it was hardly the Dutch team of '88, or the masters of '74 or '78...I mean they drew with Scotland 0-0 at Villa Park!! (And I'm a Scotsman saying that).
    We had a pretty decent team at the time, but the Dutch had young Kluivert, Davids, Seedorf, Reiziger who had recently won the European Cup but were far from experienced internationals. England with Gascoigne, Sheringham and Shearer should have won that tournament easily...but God Bless the penalty shoot out!

  • Comment number 13.

    The Dutch were totally overpowered by England that day, who had speed and trickery wide and penetration through the middle. For Spurs fans it was great to see Teddy and Anderton performing at the highest level.

    Still smarting from Sunday’s pasting, this has made me feel a fraction better after we were taught 5 Big Lessons by Arsenal:

    http://wp.me/1qHQT

  • Comment number 14.

    It was a great result, but why is it forgotten by history that the dutch had a massive fall out before the game? A few players hated each other and had issues, it had a big effect on them and this has been forgotten, it was one of the key reasons we won wasnt it?

  • Comment number 15.

    Success with England is not just about the ability in the squad, because we have that. There were less egos and more solidarity amongst the players. And they were more trusted to do their jobs, rather than having someone disrespect them enough to tell them how to play, how to take throw-ins etc

    With a manager who won't brook any nonsense, some suitable tactics paired with players in their right positions, and some freedom and support to play their natural games, we can do well.

    But as in this game against the Dutch, it is about taking chances and having a slice of luck. Shearer's second could easily have skewed wide, the defender might not have slipped; Sheringham might easily have not gotten to the ball quite first. We've disallowed and illegal goals from greatness before...

  • Comment number 16.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 17.

    @10

    England might do well if they use 15 players that you suggest!

  • Comment number 18.

    The English national team has always performed best when we play a high-tempo style in keeping with our strengths. Our 4-1 defeat of Holland in '96, beating Germany 5-1 on their turf, back in 2001, our 4-1 demolition of Croatia…

    Incorporating more continental and international elements into our domestic leagues has done a world of good by ushering in more stylish, entertaining players, but our national team gets really found out when it tries to adopt a continental style on the world stage.

  • Comment number 19.

    @18 agree with our players getting found out. At the majority of our top clubs the main players/decision makers are foreign.

    Take Man City, key players Toure, Silva, Aguero, Balotelli. Apart from Hart the English lads are there to do the water carrying, therefore when selected for national side thats what we're left with!

    And although Wilshere and Cleverly are neat players who I definately wouldnt want to bracket as plodders, we still have to face up to they arent the main playermakers in their respective teams.

  • Comment number 20.

    England aren't very good now???

    Sorry when have England ever been good?

    Until we get over this 'best team in the world' 'biggest job in the world' 'Golden Generation' nonsense every tournament will be a disappointment.

    England are a top 10 team and the QF is the best we can expect. No doubt whoever the manager is will be hounded out of a job as he didn't win the cup with no doubt the best team.

  • Comment number 21.

    Remember it well. In a bar in Calvi, Corsica, watching with a unit of Dutch Foreign Legionnaires, what gentlemen!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Paul, Do you not think though that with the money in our league and how much we pay the national manager we should be doing a little better?

    No major trophy since 66, and a dodgy semi, isnt enough

  • Comment number 23.

    @17

    I was merely suggestion a squad that happened to be 15 young players. It wasnt a starting 11.......obviously!

  • Comment number 24.

    England team v Holland 96

    1 Seaman
    2 G.Neville, 5 Adams, 3 Pearce
    6 Southgate
    4 Ince, 8 Gascoigne
    7 McManaman, 10 Sheringham, 11 Anderton
    9 Shearer

    Which current players would get into this team?
    1 Hart
    10 Rooney

  • Comment number 25.

    England only lost out against Germany because of that ludicrously dull and anonymous grey strip; the players simply couldn't see each other! If they'd played in red, Gazza would surely have gotten his big toe to that cross and England would've been in the final. Whoever decided that all grey was a good idea should've been put in the stocks and pelted with rotten tomatoes, then banished from the realm.
    When does any national side play superbly well throughout a tournament anyway? OK, Brazil in '70, the Dutch in '74...err...

  • Comment number 26.

    England at Euro 96 will often be remembered with rose tinted glasses... indeed England mid 1990's was a pretty good place to be and the victory over the Dutch exemplified this. It's just a shame then in the 16 years since, no England side has ever come close to catching the nations imagination like Gascogine, Shearer, Seaman, Sheringham, Ince et al.

    Whisper it, but England at Italia 1990 were even worse...
    1 - 1 vs Ireland
    0 - 0 vs Holland
    1 - 0 vs Egypt
    0 - 0 vs Belgium (after 90 mins)
    2 - 2 vs Cameroon (after 90 mins)
    1 - 1 vs Germany
    1 - 2 vs Italy

    That's P 7 W 1 D 4 L 1 F 6 A 6

    It's funny how hindsight looks back so kindly over those four weeks in the summer of 1990. The reason for this probably speaks volumes about England's success both prior to and after 1990 though...

  • Comment number 27.

    @3 fat clyde......... MCMANNAMAN & ANDERTON world class players!!!!!!!HA HA HA HA HA

  • Comment number 28.

    The school of thought that says this win was over rated.....I think thats the school of the English disease. I remember (one of many typical examples) when England went to play Brazil in Rio. The press (ie 'the school of thought') said that England would be found out/discover how far behind they were/best we could hope for was an unlikely draw. BUT.. England won 2-0 with the Barnes wonder goal and our brilliant press said.....England beat possibly the worst Brazillian side in history! No matter what England did, the English school of thought had to be England are crap! No wonder no one sane really wants the England job!

  • Comment number 29.

    Hart, although a good keeper still has bit to go before we can assume he would replace Seaman.

    How often could you say that Seaman was all over the place. Only at the end of his carreer as an old man.

    Seaman was quite frankly the glue which held us all together, and taken us an age to replace him.

  • Comment number 30.

    @24 ger1eng5

    Hate to be a pedant, but McManaman wore the number 17 shirt in that tournament. Platt was number 7 (on the bench for that match, but started the QF and SF in place of the suspended Ince and Neville respectively).

    BTW - I've seen a couple of people on here suggesting that Anderton was "world class" in that tournament. The truth was he was England's weak link and was actually fortunate to even make the squad in my opinion. Steve Stone came into the squad on the back of some quality international performances (and goals) and should really have been in the XI, but Anderton was fresh post injury and Venables fancied him as one of his former Spurs cohorts..

  • Comment number 31.

    @26 paddypang:

    agreed. The funny thing about Italia '90 I always think is that the one match where we genuinely were the better team (including the Egypt match) across the whole match was the West Germany game and that's where our luck ran out.

    However, to those suggesting England stuttered to those two semis I would say that it is rare for a team to win a modern tournament playing quality football and dominating teams every match. For example:

    2010 - Spain lost to Switzerland and were laboured against Chile. Survived a missed pen v Paraguay
    2008 - Spain needed pens vs Italy
    2006 - Italy got a dodgy pen when down to 10 men v Australia and won the final on pens when France were probably the better side
    2004 - Greece.....deserved the win, but hardly dominated any match!
    2002 - Brazil......probably the last time I can think where a w/c or Euros winner were genuinely the best team in every game throughout the whole tournament.

  • Comment number 32.

    I had to add a comment, why? it is the only time I have ever seen England play at Wembley plus, I had lived in Holland so I called a friend in Holland from outside Wembley after the game & reversed the charges just to laugh down the phone , after the G Taylor years it was sweet !

  • Comment number 33.

    That Euro 1996 era side of England's was probably the best that I can recall over the last 20 years ( save possibly for Lineker not being included ). It was well balanced and strong and the following year won The Tournoi ( still England's only "tournament win" outside 1966 and the Home Nations, I think ). In 1998 there were still a fair few of that team that were a non-existent foul away from beating Argentina and perhaps going on to cause Holland a few more problems.

    People mention strength of character and I think that is right - the present team seems to have a few guys incapable of making things happen on their own.

  • Comment number 34.

    ah euro 96' what a summer, 16 and full of belief that england could actually win a tourny, im sure ive spent nearly every year since dissapointed by how rubbish we actually are, well that maybe a little harsh, 98' we came close, Sol's disallowed goal anyone argh but in 96' we had a dam good team no matter what anyone says

  • Comment number 35.

    Re who could currently get into the 96 team from current players. I am going to cheat slightly and include retired players since then
    I think Scholes (at his peak) and maybe Rooney.
    However in both cases the balance and style of the team needs to be considered.
    If the formation was 4-4-2 then I think Scholes could only replace Gazza in Ger1Eng5's team at #24 and I don't think that would happen all the time (I would have had both in the squad and played either in that position depending on who the opposition were)
    If it was 3-5-2 (which fits the formation Ger1Eng5 gave) then I think it's easier to accomodate both. Drop southgate, Ince drops back to defensive midfield and the Scholes moves into the slightly more advanced midfield spot at the side of Gazza.

    Rooney could also be tricky to fit into the team (replace Sheringham or Shearer?) but it's possible.

    Of coarse the really hard part about picking players to slot in is how would they adjust to the style of that team and the understanding within it (Scholes was at '98 so entered the team pretty soon after '96 so I don't he'd have had too much trouble but I have no idea how a sheringham/rooney or shearer/rooney partnership would work).

    I also agree with averageBBCjournalist (#29) that it is a bit early to say Hart is better than Seaman at his prime. In a few years I think he has a very good chance of being very close to Seaman or even better than him, but he's not yet.

    To panamaroadotahuhu2 (#33)
    First was there really somebody with that name first or does the 2 mean something?
    Not really relevent I know but I wrote your name out in reply to ask if the Tournoi was 97 or 98 as I had the weirdest feeling that it was held in 98 as a buildup tournament just before the World Cup that year, but I checked and it was 97. I wonder what happened to the period between summer 97 and summer 98?

  • Comment number 36.

    Average BBC Journalist- I salute you, and the way that you have stuck with Seaman.

    And in other news.....didn't Alan Shearer promote the cause of Anderton because he could read his crosses better than anyone else's?

    From memory Euro 1996 was the first Torunament where the Flag of St George came to prominence, too.

    The weather was pretty good that Summer. I watched the Holland game with a very excited English friend in a pub down near St Katherines Dock as England played some decent football. It was hard not to be swept along with the general buzz the game created - hopefully we'll have some more this coming Summer.

    England v Ireland final maybe ( with a Robbie Keane winner )!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Chris,

    "We might see some of it on display at Wembley on Wednesday, although it seems unlikely that stand-in manager Stuart Pearce will manage anything from the touchline that will outdo his famous battle cry during the penalty shoot-out win over Spain in the quarter-finals."

    I agree we might not see it Wednesday, but picture this. It's the Euro's and Pearce is still in charge (or present as new bosses assistant). It's the semi-final (or even the final - not that I really believe we'll get that far without a massive improvement on previous tournament performances and a good slice of luck) and it's penalties against Germany. England slot home the winning penalty (or Hart saves) and Pearce launches up the touchline to scream into the camera again

  • Comment number 38.

    Re#37 boss's not bosses

  • Comment number 39.

    England drew their first game of Euro ‘96 with Switzerland 1-1. The crunch game was the next one against Scotland and it was a memorable 2-0 win. The results going into the final group games meant that the Dutch simply had to avoid losing by 4 goals to qualify – which a lot of people forget.

    Famously a moody outfit, as soon as they were 4-0 down and then got wind that the on-going Scotland v Switzerland match result was likely to eliminate them they simply went up-field and scored the goal that they needed to qualify. They showed their class when it was required which gives rise to the question of what would have been the result had Holland needed a result against?

    The quarter final against Spain ended in a 0-0 draw but England went through on penalties for a change. The dramatic semi-final they again drew but lost out on penalties to Germany. In summary they won only 2 games out of 5 home matches, though were unbeaten having drawn 3.

    A good England side - but not world beaters. May have been had Venabes stayed…

  • Comment number 40.

    "To panamaroadotahuhu2 (#33)
    First was there really somebody with that name first or does the 2 mean something?
    Not really relevent I know but I wrote your name out in reply to ask if the Tournoi was 97 or 98 as I had the weirdest feeling that it was held in 98 as a buildup tournament just before the World Cup that year, but I checked and it was 97. I wonder what happened to the period between summer 97 and summer 98?"

    ManchesterUnited4ever

    Excellent name you have there - but you should really come off the fence a bit about who you support.

    The 2 is because this is my second incarnation on these Boards ( I go back to the old 606 days ). It's a road in South Auckland by the way - where I used to pretend to be Lou Macari against my brothers' Charlie George and Liam Brady ( to be honest he was more of a Jeff Blockley than a Liam Brady ).

    Le Tournoi was 1997, I'm pretty sure. For a while there the country holding a Major Tournament would have a dry run the year before - USA did this in 1993, England had the Umbro Tournament in 1995, France - Le Tournoi in 1997. I think Brazil and France were involved - so no mug teams - and I am pretty sure that this was the Tournament that Roberto Carlos bent the ball in from a free kick with some outrageous swerve .... and I think Scholsey may have scored also.

    As for the period between Summer 1997 and Summer 1998, you had the remarkable qualification in Italy in October 1997 ( Paul Ince doing a Terry Butcher and Uri Geller making sure that England hit the post ). I saw the ar%e end of that game in a bar in Mexico ( all manner of nationalities were hunched around a tiny screen in Cancun ).

  • Comment number 41.

    2002 - Brazil......probably the last time I can think where a w/c or Euros winner were genuinely the best team in every game throughout the whole tournament.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    France 98 and 00, biased I may be the stats are there for everyone to see.

    @panamaroadotahuhu2
    le tournoi was in 97, four teams france, italy, brazil and england. we drew with italy and brazil and lost to england. i think england drew with italy and lost to brazil.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    6 Barry Davies best commentator ever? Do me a favour. He had no consistency with player names (Paulo Wanchope was one-chop in the league, wan-shop-ay in the world cup, and then wan-chop int he league the following year, Patrick Kluivert went from kly-vert to clow-vert to clue-vert, and those are just too) at least alf of the goals he commentated on were "fine" and he had to make sure you know just how much he knew.

    On the blog, THat was a great performance against the dutch, and they are a country that kind of show in some ways where we're going wrong, nationally. Their league is weaker than ours, but clearly their youth development is better as they have far better technical players than us, and they produce a lot of them. I think most top european teams have a dutchman in their ranks, or are after one (Not because he's dutch of course). Shame , with our larger population, we can't find a way to develop youth as well as the dutch do

  • Comment number 44.

    The video clip is not available in my area (USA). But I can jump over to YouTube and view it. Why does the Beeb have such arcane copyright rules?

    But yes, I long for a return to the days when England had the talent to take Holland apart like this!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Dream on, England... You first have to overcome yourselves before you can take on us Dutch. England international football is in a permanent state of crisis. Way too much media pressure and ego's and players screwing each other over. I predict England get knocked out in the second round of the Euro's!!! ORANJE BOVEN!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Adriaano - ooh, you mean-tongued devil you. I predict that Rob van Persie's glass legs give out before the Euros begin and Holland back out of the tournament for fear of being humiliated.

  • Comment number 47.

    Haha, we'll see... thank god we still have Huntelaar!

  • Comment number 48.

    Do you remember.....do you remember......is anybody that old-LOL?

  • Comment number 49.

    panamaroadotahuhu2: someone from South Aux that enjoys football? surely not!

  • Comment number 50.

    Sonnyhart wrote (post 43)

    On the blog, THat was a great performance against the dutch, and they are a country that kind of show in some ways where we're going wrong, nationally. Their league is weaker than ours, but clearly their youth development is better as they have far better technical players than us, and they produce a lot of them. I think most top european teams have a dutchman in their ranks, or are after one (Not because he's dutch of course). Shame , with our larger population, we can't find a way to develop youth as well as the dutch do
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Well, let's see...

    Sneijder: Internationale (Inter Milan)
    Robben: Bayern Munich
    Van Persie: Arsenal
    Van der Vaart: Tottenham Hotspur
    Afellay: Barcelona
    Van Bommel: AC Milan
    Kuyt: Liverpool
    Huntelaar: Schalke
    De Jong: Manchester City
    Heitinga: Everton
    Emanuelson: AC Milan
    Schaars: Sporting Portugal
    Stekelenburg: AS Roma
    Vorm: Swansea
    Krul: Newcastle

    Surely the players in the English national team can match this?

  • Comment number 51.

    Oh...the memories...an absolute classic of a game and one where I thought we really would get caned going into it...that Dutch side had some serious quality in it.

    For all the talk of English arrogance, I don't know anyone who was expecting that result against the Oranje. Probably the best England team I've had the honour of watching.

  • Comment number 52.

    It was a great night to be at Wembley. I remember leaving the stadium stunned rather than jubilant. It was great to be English in 96, everyone was behind the team and there was such a feel good factor around. The Gazza goal against Scotland has to go down as my favourite ever Wembley moment though. Stunning, just stunning.

  • Comment number 53.

    Daniel Pinder

    Yep- fraid so.

    Having said that my brothers and I all did a stint playing League down at Mt Richmond ( big bro played in the same team as Hugh McGahan ) so we weren't complete outcasts. Great club, that. I scored my only try when I tripped over and fell on the ball when it had dribbled over the touchline. Big clashes with the likes of Manukau - barely controlled civil war type stuff.

    In the early 1970s there were still a few 10 pound toursists about and that meant the odd "soccer watcher" was about - you could tell which houses they lived in as their lights were on at 3 am on FA Cup Final night.

  • Comment number 54.

    52.At 00:46 29th Feb 2012, Jedra wrote:

    yeah but was it stunning?

  • Comment number 55.

    What a great tournament that was still fresh in the memory as if it was yesterday.I lived a stone's throw away from Wembley stadium and my son eight at the time was with me on the opening day and I can still his little face pressed to the window watching everyone making their way to the stadium,We watched it the opening game on TV and I remember him looking at me and I knew what he was thinking "I wish I was there" little did he know I had tickets for the England Holland game but hadn't told him.Picked him up from school in Islington showed him the tickets and his face lit up with his big smile.We went to the game what a great match one of the best and that night he went to bed happy in his little England kit.He's now a working man,married with his own son aged 2 but in a few hours time we're meeting up and going to tonight's game.I had said to him if England win don't put on your England kit when you go to bed as your wife won't be too chuffed.Happy 96 memories

  • Comment number 56.

    "12.
    At 12:56 28th Feb 2012, Alberto wrote:

    Let's be honest, it was hardly the Dutch team of '88, or the masters of '74 or '78...I mean they drew with Scotland 0-0 at Villa Park!! (And I'm a Scotsman saying that)."

    It's worth noting though Alberto, that Scotland qualified with the best defensive record of all the teams participating, having only conceded 3 goals in 10 games. The only other goals they would concede in the whole campaign was against the hosts. Bah.

  • Comment number 57.

    My overriding memory of this game will always be Guus Hiddink's moustache.

  • Comment number 58.

    To panamaroadotahuhu2 (#40),

    How could I have forgotten Wright and Italy?
    I thought about it after posting and I believe I may have forgotten most of that period as Arsenal won the league that season!

    And yes le tournoi was the Roberto Carlos swerver
    Interestingly we actually beat France (the world-cup winners the following year) 1-0 so maybe our team(s) of 96-98 were our golden generation rather than the recent lot. Certainly the games/performances in 96 were some of the best that I remember having seen England play in tournaments (3 great games - Scotland, Holland and Germany, 1 dull game Spain, and 1 that I can't really remember so assume was quite dull to vs Switzerland)

    Of coarse what '96 also had was a great song to go with it - 3 lions on their shirts...

  • Comment number 59.

    Kapai MU4ever

    I have been watching a lot of Fantasy Football ( the TV programme ) over the last few days - don't know whether it's because of this Euro Blog or not. The Phoenix From the Flames segments are some of the funniest things on TV. I was watching the Eusebio one ( with the trombone ) in bed on my Ifone and my wife thought I was having a heart attack with all the shaking ( at least she said she thought it was a heart attack........).

    That 1997 - 1998 England squad had a very good blend of the old and the new - a little like the 1995-1996 United squad, although that was quite "new heavy".

    On song, the 1996 England Squad reminded me of the 1993-94 Double winning United side - full of hard nosed pros near the top of their game ( and Anderton and McManaman ). The Dark Lord still gets misty eyed when he thinks of that 1993-94 squad.

    But others above are right - they grew into the 1996 Tournament and the evidence of the friendlies before 1996 was patchy.

    Pepuk - that's a brilliant story. I took my 8 year old son on an unexpected jaunt up to Old Trafford to see the Scholes Testimonial. There was no prouder moment than when we had a drink in the Trafford Bar outside the ground ( although he rather blotted his copybook by being ejected by the bouncers for starting some unsavoury chants ).

    Euro 1996 also reminds me of me and my brothers attempt to climb an equestrian statue in Central London - I only made it onto the plinth, my brother managed to get in behind the rider. It was like something out of Noel Coward. I think there may have been an element of traffic cone-age as well.

  • Comment number 60.

    Wishing new England skipper Scott Parker
    and his boys a memorable outing against
    The Netherlands. Good luck.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 61.

    Here we go! mate. Holland were a rubbish team then and as i recall were still markedly better than England in the main in that match until they collapsed.

    PS Venables was the Redknapp of the 90s. Not much good, but the media loved him and he knew how to play and use them.

  • Comment number 62.

    Most overhyped result in recent memory. Great second half because we couldn't believe it was happening as we usually lose those games. But back then we didn't take results so seriously, as for saying this team was a "who's who" of world class players - that is delusion on an entirely new scale. Anderton???

  • Comment number 63.

    @29 Average_BBCjournalist

    Wrote:

    "How often could you say that Seaman was all over the place. ...

    Seaman was quite frankly the glue which held us all together..."

    Brilliant!

  • Comment number 64.

    Selecting Scott Parker captain is comment on the situation of English football.

    Either
    1) Scott is an ace player who went almost un-noticed for a decade
    or
    2) we can't find anyone better than what you might expect of a decent guy with 3 caps before he reached 30.

    Of the two choices, I hope the truth is the first, but, even then, what chance have we got if it takes us 10 years to recognise a good player.

  • Comment number 65.

    Euro 96 is only remembered for way too many 'all of a sudden England fans'. Football got 'trendy' thanks partly to SKY SPORTS who invented (yeah they did...really) the game in the early 90s.

    Not remembered that fondly as a big England fan before, during and after the tournament.

  • Comment number 66.

    I remember it very well, I was living in Holland and all I heard for months before the game was what the Dutch were going to do to England.

    I bit my tongue and just said "We will see." Needless to say, when I finally rolled into work on the Wednesday afternoon (about six hours late after all the celebrating the night before), I just raised my arms aloft and I could see the heads drop.

    Great times.

  • Comment number 67.

    Oh, get real. This was a freak result on home ground against a Dutch team that hadn't then reached its full potential. As for the wishful thinking about England's chances this summer, there's about as much likelihood of England doing well as Frankie Boyle doing the Royal Variety Performance.

  • Comment number 68.

    #11 I'd just like to know how a team who win a major football tournament (as Germany did in 96) can be described as 'in decline'.

  • Comment number 69.

    Oh, and Guus Hiddink uttered the immortal quote after the game, "Nederland krigt voetball les" which translates as Netherlands given a football lesson. Must be the last one we ever gave.

  • Comment number 70.

    Don't know how many of the people saying 'freak result' and 'poor opposition' are England followers but for those that are, you make me laugh! Damned if England win (and win well), damned if they don't! If I represented England at football I'd hate to have you as fans!

  • Comment number 71.

    Wolfie Peters (#64)

    Unfortunately I think Parker made an early error in his career. He got his first england cap while with Charlton in 2003. However soon after that he moved to Chelsea during the early years of the Abramovich money and didn't play much for several years s could never be in consideration for England. When he moved to Newcastle I think his performances started getting noticed (but probably would have taken a year or so for people to consider him for England again) more but there was the Managerial obsession with playing Lampard and Gerrard together which left no room for him. Plus around that sort of time I think Hargreaves/Barry were tending to take the holding role when we didn't try to play Gerrard and Lampard.

    Cynicall_Sid (#69)
    How about in what NOT to do?

  • Comment number 72.

    panamaroadotahuhu2 (#59)

    Fantasy Football with Baddiel and Skinner - now that's a blast from the past.
    I remember fondly those goal and celebration recreations

    What did he start singing - Blue Moon?

  • Comment number 73.

    What I love about that goal is how perfectly it epitomises the players involved. The surging run into the box is pure Gascoigne, Sheringham's brilliant dummied pass is exactly the kind of crafty touch he specialised in and then the piledriver shot is a classic Shearer finish. Three players doing what they did best. The problem so often with England is that the players don't do that, because the pressure of playing for England is so much greater than turning out for their clubs. Fabio Capello knew that, but he couldn't find a solution. Let's hope the next England manager can.

  • Comment number 74.

    ger1eng5, Do you really think that Mcnanaman and Anderton ar better than our current crop of wingers and attacking midfielders? Anderton performed well for England but for me he is a class below Johnson and Young.

    I actually think the best side from then and now would be a pretty even mix. You'd take Gascoigne and Shearer for sure, and probably Neville, Adams and Pearce.

    I sometimes wonder how much football some people watch on here. Our players have been perofmring at top clubs for years, yet you still come out with rubbish like Anderton being better than Lampard or Gerrard.

  • Comment number 75.

    Having read through all the comments to date, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that England has the football team it deserves. With a few notable exceptions, what a load of mean spirited, negative, unreasonably critical, pessimistic, moaning and whining collection of posts. It's either that or totally blinkered jingoistic xenophobia. Is the population on drugs or suffering from bipolar disorder? Where's the middle ground people, the balanced viewpoint?!
    Fact: During my lifetime, whenever England have entered the final stages of any international tournament, they have been considered by all the competing countries as either among the favourites or a good outside bet for the title. The margin between success and failure in football is a very fine one and I could cite a long list of little incidents down the years that meant the difference between progress and elimination. The fact that certain countries have won a disproportionate number of those titles is due to a combination of preparation and attitude. From the disproportionate number of unduly negative posts, one can see why England fails dismally in the 'attitude' criterion.
    Sorry to be so critical myself, but my patience has its limits!

  • Comment number 76.

    But look at who we had playing--Gazza, Shearer and Sheringham. The attack we have today is light years away from the one we had then.
    The pity of that year was that Venables, after getting it all right, screwed it all up in the semi-final with his inexplicable refusal to bring on 'fresh legs' in extra time, even when Teddy was begging to be taken off. England could and should have won that game. It was Venables who lost it not the team.

  • Comment number 77.

    In '96 Venables picked the best team instead of the best players. Fowler was probably the best poacher in Europe at the time but could hardly get a kick, because he didn't fit the team.

    These days England pick the best players and hope for the best. Never mind if they work well as a team. Never mind if it's media hype which has called them "the best". Someone needs to have the courage to drop under-performers, even Rooney next time he goes a year without a goal (again). The team matters more than the player. It's a secret Shankly knew and Fergie knows, and Ramsey knew it too, but England have forgotten.

  • Comment number 78.

    Jimim22 (#74),

    As a right-wing back or winger (in the system used in '96) Anderton was better than Gerrard and Lampard (who are central midfielders).

    Gerrard and Lampard need comparing to Gazza and Ince and while either Gerrard maybe could at a pinch have replaced either (I think more a replacement for Ince than Gazza), I think Lampard could only have replaced Ince and in both cases I would probably have stuck with the original Ince/Gazza partnership (neither Lampard or Gerrard are natural replacements for either player - see my earlier comment about Scholes fitting into that team)

    Also in '96 we played 3-5-2 which meant Anderton and McManamon were wing-backs so I would prefer them to Young and Johnson who are excellent out and out wingers but I think would have left us more exposed on the defensive side

  • Comment number 79.

    i remember the winner of the real thing not some rare england win agaisnt a top team. when they go all the way, come back here then we talk. lucky of..... everything really.... pointless

  • Comment number 80.

    Well as a neutral I think I can safely say that Stuart Pearce has made his first mistake by not making Gerrard the England Captain. We have had a fiasco regarding Terry and Ferdinand, and now this. Terry probably should still be captain, and the Manager resigned because of it. Pearce's appointment is a lightweight temporary one and more it ever be so. Pearce always reminds me of Ricky Hatton. Full of pluck but out of luck.

  • Comment number 81.

    Well I've seen enough! England stay home. Second round Euro's max. Holland is playing at 40% and we are still able to beat you. ORANJE BOVEN!!!

  • Comment number 82.

    Oops spoke too soon, Cahill makes a great striker!
    Ah Robben just scored... Go Home!

  • Comment number 83.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 84.

    My recollection of the phrase 'You have to say THAT'S magnificent' was used by Barry Davies to describe Maradona's second goal after the infamous Hand of God episode in World Cup 1986. It may be 15 years ago but I recall the Holland game in question of Euro 96 being shown by ITV so our Barry of the BBC wouldn't even have been commentating.

  • Comment number 85.

    @ Crippledsheep

    Don't be such a killjoy. A 4-1 result against anyone in the finals of a major competition is an excellent result. And as for Germany being "in decline", they won the tournament didn't they? They were so bad that they walked away European Champions.

    And we dominated Switzerland. They only scored due to a very, very cheap penalty that Stuart Pearce gave away after a shot was blasted into his hands. As he was only protecting himself and the ball would have hit his torso had he not raised his hands, it's arguable as to whether it should have even been a penalty anyway.

    And (@Stuart MCFC) stop bleating on about Spain's disallowed goal. It's part of the game. England get robbed all the time. Campbell's disallowed goal v Argentina at France 98? Lampard's disallowed goal at South Africa 2010? The penalty I just mentioned in 1996? Rooney's questionable red card against Portugal?

  • Comment number 86.

    The 'secret' decision to award Parker the captaincy is an indication that the coach, manager and FA are not willing to solve personal problems amongst the players. I mean come on, Parker is respected more that Gerrard. Puff.

    All I see in England squad are players who value their personal performance and ranks in light than the team effort in a whole. And with this kind of coaching and favoring personal egoisms, it is not going to get any better. Not until next world cup. Euro boat is already sinking.

  • Comment number 87.

    The 1996 win over my country The Netherlands is ofcourse a great victory for the English, but do keep in mind that a few days before the match there was trouble between the Dutch players and trainer. This resulted in Edgar Davids being send home by Guus Hiddink the day before the match. This is also the reason why Guus refused to start with Patrick Kluivert.

    Its a great victory but keep it real. We were also playing with players like Hoekstra en De Kock (yes, the Dutch and their funny names)

  • Comment number 88.

    The Dutch were in disarray before the game. This is used as a reason to discredit England's win. Yet, when England go into a tournament on the back of a scandal or in an unsettled state, they only have themselves to blame. Typical English negative and cynical outlook on our sports teams, especially in regards to football. Regardless of the circumstances, 4-1 against the Dutch should be taken and remembered with glee, some memorable goals and what an English atmosphere. Certainly we've not been good enough for some time, but appreciate the more successful times when they come and remember the amount of luck required in football alongside all else. In any case, I personally think we played much better throughout the 1998 World Cup under Hoddle but there you go...

    England could win Euro 2012 and there would be a shed load of negativity. This team were poor, they didn't play well, that goal was offside etc... Makes me ashamed to be English at times.

    P.s. @BleuBlancRouge : England won Le Tournoi, and we beat Italy 2-0 thanks to an early memorable Paul Scholes performance (we also beat you, and then lost to Brazil).

  • Comment number 89.

    I remember the night England were knocked out in the semis well. It was my birthday, Gutted to this day! (England always lose on my birthday. Argentina at the 1998 World Cup too)

  • Comment number 90.

    Well said BLRBRazil.


    Even taking into account last night's result England have a decent team and ( if they can just block their "fans" and the media from their consciousness ) maybe, just maybe, could play with that bit more confidence and guile that would see them lifting a trophy in our lifetime.

 

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