Picture the scene. It’s the summer of 1996 and England, the birthplace of football, is hosting the European Championships.
This shouldn’t be too difficult on the eve of another major tournament and given the fact that the lingering aura of Euro 96 seems inescapable at the moment.
Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds provided the soundtrack and Terry Venables’ Three Lions did the rest.
The nation was buzzing and the air filled with a tangible sense of optimism. Shearer and Sheringham, Gazza’s goal, Pearcey’s penalty, Southgate’s spot-kick…
These are the images that are etched in the minds of England fans, memories that have served to spark a wave of nostalgia as we head towards the same competition two decades later.
But imagine if we’d all been able to communicate our collective sense of joy and despair in the same way afforded to us today.
What would the immediate reaction have been on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other Social Media platforms?
Well, it might have looked something like this…
Scotland 0-2 England, 15 June 1996
The hosts were under pressure following a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Roy Hodgson’s Switzerland in the opening game.
England needed a hero (or two) to emerge. And boy did they deliver. Alan Shearer opened the scoring on 53 minutes, Scotland’s Gary McAllister saw his spot-kick saved by David Seaman and then THIS happened…
Paul Gascoigne’s stunning piece of skill sent the nation wild.
Kammy was quick to note the significance of an incredible few minutes of football.
Meanwhile, a former team-mate and fellow England legend got in on the act too.
The man himself summed up his feelings in just a few simple words.
A young Mr. G. Neville was loving his first taste of tournament football as well as Gazza’s exploits.
Meanwhile, one man was left to rue his hard luck from 12 yards.
Netherlands 1-4 England, 18 June 1996
The following Tuesday night the Three Lions went marching (or storming) into the quarter-finals, courtesy of with what’s been described as arguably the greatest performance from an England side in the modern era.
And echoing the words of their blockbuster chart hit, Baddiel and Skinner summed up the mood perfectly.
Spain 0-0 England AET, (England win 4-2 on penalties), 22 June 1996
THIS IS IT! It’s really coming home! David Seaman and Stuart Pearce are the penalty shoot-out heroes as England squeeze past Spain and into the semi-finals.
There’s dancing in the streets and the atmosphere is reaching fever pitch.
And here’s a fans’ Snapchat story of how the celebrations played out…
Germany 1-1 England AET (Germany win 6-5 on penalties), 26 June 1996
Football is a tragic game and penalties are its cruellest mistress.
What other possible explanation is there for the way England’s Euro 96 dream died on one fateful Wednesday evening at Wembley?
It would’ve been too easy and churlish to label Gareth Southgate the villain of the piece. He had the bottle to be the Three Lions’ sixth penalty taker and you’d have to possess a heart of stone to not have been touched by his emotional apology to the fans.
*This article is a parody. Unfortunately we’d have to wait another 10 years for the advent of Twitter and other Social Media platforms mentioned.*
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.