2001: An English footballing odyssey

As England return to Germany tonight, memories still burn brightly of that remarkable World Cup qualifier seven years ago. Compiled by Glenn Moore and Matt Fearon
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The Independent Online

The Manager: Sven Goran Eriksson

"You never forget a game like that. Those goals, all of them, beautiful goals. How can I describe my feelings? It was unreal – and extremely nice. To be honest it was incredible they didn't score to go 2-1 up, but they missed their chance and we took ours.

"Some of the goals we scored against Germany were examples of how I like football to be played. You win the ball, with your second touch you play it forward, and when you have Owen up there the pace of it is perfect. That is how we scored the fourth against Germany. Gerrard won the ball and played it to Owen, who went Bang! Goal.

"I told the players before the game 'if you play football as you can play we can beat any team', even Germany away, but I can't believe it was 5-1."

The Player: Rio Ferdinand

"When the big lump Carsten Jancker scored after six minutes it looked like curtains but Michael Owen equalised and we were about to enjoy a night we would never forget. Before the game their fans and media had given us loads of stick, telling us to book our holidays for the following summer because there would be no World Cup for us. By the end, the ground was half-empty and it was a great feeling for us to walk around looking at the fans who'd stayed and seeing their miserable faces.

"What made it even better was seeing the massive electronic scoreboard showing the score 1:5 in bright orange. I've got a picture on my wall of the team in front of that board.

"After all the times they had beaten us it was just a blinding result. I didn't realise the euphoria that surrounded it until we got back to England and everyone was going mad."

(partly extracted from Rio: My Story)

The Fan: Kevin Miles

"I've watched England everywhere and I've seen them play plenty of forgettable games but that night always sticks in the memory: it was against the Germans, it was a competitive match and it was totally out of the blue.

"It hadn't been the most pleasant of days atmosphere-wise and I spent most of the day fielding calls from the media and fans that had got themselves into trouble. There was a sense of disorder about the day and when they scored first I thought, 'Here we go again' but it just kept getting better and better and by half-time all the media calls had dried up.

"The atmosphere after the game wasn't what you would expect, there were no wild celebrations – in part because a lot of places had closed after trouble earlier that day – but everywhere you looked England fans just had big beaming smiles all over their faces. We went out for some beers and both sets of fans were incredulous."

The Opponent: Oliver Kahn

"We will be scarred for life. There is no shame in losing to England but there is when you lose like that. In Germany we call this supergau, a nuclear explosion. It is a catastrophe.

"This was a catastrophe and after the first goal we could not stand their pressure. We showed a lot of indecision and could not stop them. We could not stop Owen. We were always struggling to keep up with him. He was so cool and clinical."

The Ex-pat: Ben Mott-Heath

"I was in Frankfurt, working, so I only saw the last few minutes. Everyone else there was German and, early on, the word went round that Carsten Jancker had scored. After that, there was nothing. I got back to the hotel, knackered, and .I turned on the TV expecting to see Germany 3-0 up. I was amazed to see England were 5-1 up. The next day the Germans were really embarrassed. It was like a national disaster."

The Newsagents: Ibrahim Hassan and Bipin Patel

Ibrahim Hassan (Hamdy's News, Hackney, London): "All the newspapers were wiped out by about 11 the next morning, everything was taken, it doesn't happen often. The only other time that happened was with Obama the other week and with Diana dying, although on that day all the papers were gone by eight in the morning."

Bipin Patel (Archway Road, Highgate, London): "I remember that Sunday because normally everyone buys one paper but that day people were walking out with four of five."

The Commentator: John Motson

"It was almost fantasy stuff because all the previous evening, and that morning, people had been predicting a low-scoring draw. And indeed, when it was 1-1 towards the end of the first half, there was no indication that it would end up in a landslide.

"I think it was Greg Dyke who said it was the most memorable England match since 1966 and I couldn't challenge him on that. I remember England winning 4-1 in Yugoslavia one time, and 4-2 in Spain, and of course 4-1 against the Netherlands in Euro '96, but the fact that this was Germany caught everyone's imagination.

"People say it was a poor German team, and yes, it was the poorest German team I have seen, but it was still Germany, they were still at home, it was still the World Cup."

The Journalist: Glenn Moore

"The most vivid memory is of another hack rising to his feet in the press box when England went 4-1 up and puffing on an imaginary cigar. At 5-1 he stood up again, puffing two imaginary cigars. It was a bold move because in the Olympic stadium visiting press were also sited in an overflow area, surrounded by home supporters. Fortunately the German fans were too deflated to even raise a snarl.

"Later, as I wrote a piece for Monday's Independent in my hotel room, I heard a lone voice singing 'Ing-er-land, Ing-er-land, In-ger-land' on the streets of Munich. It was about 4am, and normally I'd feel fairly censorious about that, but on this occasion I was tempted to join in.

"I also remember some of the guys coming out of the interview area and complaining that Emile Heskey – never the man for a sound bite – had simply said: 'I suppose it went all right'."

That match...

Germany 1 England 5 (Olympiastadion, Munich) 2002 World Cup qualifier, Saturday 1 September 2001

Goals: Jancker (6) 1-0; Owen (13) 1-1; Gerrard (45) 1-2; Owen (48) 1-3; Owen (66) 1-4; Heskey (72) 1-5.

Germany: Kahn; Worns (Asamoah, h/t), Linke, Nowotny; Deisler, Ballack (Klose, 67), Rehmer, Hamann, Boehme; Jancker, Neuville (Kehl, 78).

England: Seaman; G Neville, Ferdinand, Campbell, A Cole; Beckham, Gerrard (Hargreaves, 78), Scholes (Carragher, 83), Barmby (McManaman, 65); Heskey, Owen.

Referee: P Collina (Italy)

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