Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In happier times...

I was checking in my archives the other day for this piece about Gazza's goal for England against the Scots in Euro '96, and discovered that the 'Top 10 Goals in the European Championships' roundup I'd originally embedded had apparently been deleted from YouTube (although I'm not convinced about this, since the freeze-frame title screen is still displaying normally). I thought I'd better substitute it with this clip of the Gazza goal on its own (though, unlike that earlier compilation of micro-clips, this shows it in its full, glorious context - Seaman's penalty save immediately preceding, the ebullient celebration afterwards). And, what the heck, here it is for you now....

I also turned up this '10 Best England Goals' selection. Some fun stuff, but mostly long-range efforts (and, even on that criterion, there are some strange omissions - such as Joe Cole's corker of a volley against Sweden in the last World Cup). Goals that had a critical importance in major games linger longer in the memory: Shearer's emphatic finish to complete the rout of Holland in Euro '96, for example; or David Platt's last-gasp winner against Belgium in the 1990 World Cup; or, well, Lineker's hope-inspiring late equaliser in that agonising 1990 semi-final against Germany. [Update: I've just added the 2010 version of Three Lions over on The Barstool; the accompanying fan video has an even better selection of great England moments.]

Nothing before the '80s either - and even there they miss Butch Wilkins chipping the ball over the top of the Belgian defence, and then repeating the feat with the keeper in the 1980 European Championship, Chris Waddle covering half the length and rather more than half of the width of the pitch in running the ball through the hapless Turkish defence [Ah, I don't know how I managed to overlook it, but actually that one is in there, at No. 4. It's probably even better than Barnesey's romp below - although in both cases the defences just stood by and watched, mysteriously failing to offer a single challenge.] in the 1985 game at Wembley that secured our qualification for the World Cup, and, of course, this..... John Barnes walking the ball into the net from 40 yards out...... against the Brazilians...... in the Maracana. Fantasy Football indeed! Of course, it was only a friendly; and, alas, he never managed to play quite this well for us in a major tournament.

Unfortunately, I can't envisage there being anything like this to lift the hearts of England fans this time around. On the contrary, the earlier we crash out of the tournament, the less pain we'll have to suffer.

By the way, it looks as though this post is going to become my discussion forum for this World Cup. I wonder if we can beat the 50-odd comments we rang up for the European Championship thread a couple of years ago?

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