Tantrums and dentist's chairs: How England have prepared for major tournaments
James Mariner is a journalist who has been boring The Independent sports desk with mindless statistics since June 2007. Helping with various, wide-ranging desk duties (I made the tea once), supervising workies and the endless researching of panels, James has an unnatural love of all things football, and in particular the Europa League, being a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. He cites Brian Sears and Ledley King among his heroes and can even find something interesting in Burnley v Hull City. On a good day.
Saturday 26 May 2012
1996 European Championship
Two years of friendlies culminated in routine wins over Hungary and in China before England travelled to Hong Kong, where a 1-0 win was overshadowed by the players' "dentist's chair" exploits in a nightclub and subsequent damage to an aeroplane cabin on the flight home. The media storm helped the squad bond, as they reached the Euro semi-finals on home soil before losing on penalties to Germany.
1998 World Cup
Glenn Hoddle's side laboured through a goalless draw with Saudi Arabia and a 1-0 win in Morocco – featuring Michael Owen's first international goal before losing on penalties to Belgium in the same pre-tournament warm-up event – something they would replicate a month later in exiting the tournament to Argentina from the spot in the second round. Paul Gascoigne's reaction to being left out of the squad in La Manga stole the pre-tournament headlines, the midfielder hitting a chair and smashing a lamp after being told of his exclusion.
2000 European Championship
Wins over Ukraine and Malta followed a commendable draw with Brazil at Wembley but Kevin Keegan's side bombed in Belgium and the Netherlands. England failed to make it out of their group, losing to Portugal and Romania either side of a win over a poor Germany.
2002 World Cup
Entertaining draws with Japan and Cameroon set up Sven Goran Eriksson's first tournament in a build-up overshadowed by David Beckham's metatarsal injury. Two more draws helped England to a runners-up spot in their group, before the quarter-final habit began with defeat to Brazil.
2004 European Championship
A stuttering draw with Japan and a 6-1 thrashing of Iceland – including two Wayne Rooney goals – preceded a decent tournament in Portugal. Rooney scored four more goals but his broken metatarsal halted England's progress as they lost to the hosts on penalties in the quarter-finals.
2006 World Cup
England looked in fine fettle in easing past Hungary 3-1 and Jamaica, 6-0, at Old Trafford as they prepared to travel to Germany for Sven's last hurrah. England struggled in the heat once they began the tournament, however, edging through the group and past Ecuador before losing, again in the quarter-finals, again to Portugal, again on penalties.
2010 World Cup
Flattering warm-up victories over Mexico and Japan – courtesy of two own goals – gave some indication of the struggles Fabio Capello's side faced in South Africa. Boredom in a remote training camp became a factor as England struggled to make an impact. Against the backdrop of in-camp mutiny and splits, England were thrashed 4-1 by Germany in the second round.
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