The Legendary Lions: Five England Tournament Legends

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Roy Hodgson’s England are aiming to be kings of the continent this summer, with Euro 2016 in France awaiting the exciting young Three Lions side. Ahead of their European assignment, here’s a look back at five English stars who have inspired, entertained and excited us in European Championships through the years.

The Star Stopper: David Seaman (1988-2002)

Heading into his first major international tournament aged 32, the Rotherham-born stopper was something of an elder statesman, but he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Largely remembered for the ridiculously colourful, migraine-inducing away kit he sported in the semi-final, Seaman starred as England beat Scotland 2-0 and hammered Holland, before the keeper had his moment in the sun, saving Miguel Angel Nadal’s penalty to ensure a quarter-final shoot-out victory over Spain at Wembley.

Seaman featured again in Euro 2000 as England defeated Germany 1-0 in the group stage – grabbing some revenge for that agonising loss four years earlier – but injury ruled him out of the final group game, where his replacement Nigel Martyn failed to deal with the attacking flair of, erm, Romania. Oh dear.

The Defensive Dynamo: Tony Adams (1987-2000)

The only man to play in major tournaments for England in three separate decades, Adams was one of the few to impress in the disappointing Euro ’88 campaign, performing well and scoring a superb header in defeat to the Soviet Union.

However, it was as captain of the Three Lions in Euro 96 that Adams had his finest hours. A rock at the back, the Arsenal stalwart marshaled a defence which conceded just three times in five games on home soil.

Adams’ tournament swansong came in 2000, where he featured briefly, but it’s his homeland heroics in 1996 that make Adams a Euros hero for fans from Carlisle to Cornwall.

The Goal Machine: Alan Shearer (1992-2000)

No England star of the modern era deserves the tag of ‘big game player’ more than ‘Super Al’, and he provided the most memorable moments of two different Euros campaigns for the Three Lions.

The legendary hitman scored in all three Euro 96 group matches, opening with a goal against Switzerland, for whom a manager by the name of Roy Hodgson had secured a first ever European Championships berth.

Shearer went on to net a bullet header in the 2-0 win over Scotland and a double in the win over the Netherlands.

However, it’s his contribution against arch-rivals Germany which remains most memorable for Three Lions fans. Among Shearer’s 30 goals in 63 England appearances were strikes in the agonising defeat to the Germans in ’96 and the winner in the Euro 2000 clash, as Die Mannschaft finished bottom of Group A. Not bad.

The Record-Breaker: Wayne Rooney (2003-present)

Despite being England’s all-time top scorer, some have accused Wayne Rooney of being unable to perform in major tournaments. However, the striker’s Euros record proves that argument to be nonsense.

The then-Everton forward took Euro 2004 by storm, at the tender age of 18, with two clinical finishes in the 4-1 thumping of Croatia taking his group stage tally to four goals, and raising hopes of a first Euros triumph in England’s history.

Sadly, injury saw Rooney sidelined during the quarter-final clash with Portugal, and he disappeared down the tunnel with England’s tournament hopes. He returned to the continental stage with decent displays in 2012, scoring the winner against joint-hosts Ukraine.

However, England fans would love to see Rooney recapture something of the spark he showed in 2004 this summer. Are his finest Euros moments still to come?

The Overnight Star: Teddy Sheringham (1993-2002)

At 27-years-old, Sheringham may have thought that his first international cap, in 1993, may be a one-off to treasure. But a sprinkling of appearances followed, before Terry Venables surprised many by selecting the Spurs striker, who had never scored in a competitive England game.

The gamble paid off, with the energetic Sheringham providing service to goal-machine Alan Shearer, as well as grabbing a pair of clinical strikes in England’s greatest ever Euros win, that 4-1 defeat of a much-fancied Netherlands side.

With a host of tournament debutants seemingly on the cards for the Three Lions this summer, will there be a new star hearing their name chanted in the stands in Marseille and Lens this summer?

Roy Hodgson’s exciting young side are 5/6 to win Group B – ahead of Wales, Slovakia and Russia, with the Three Lions 1/11 to make it through to the knockouts.

Meanwhile, it’s 5/1 that England are eliminated at the semi-final stage again, a selection which could prove popular (with Scotland fans).

However, the best value looks to be on backing this England team to lift the trophy at 17/2, following an impressive qualifying campaign and that memorable 3-2 victory in Berlin during March.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.