Gareth Southgate called on his current squad of England players to capture the spirit created by Terry Venables’ side which absorbed the nation during Euro 96.
England-mania swept the country in 1996 in the Three Lions’ race to the Euro semi-finals.
Fast forward 25 years and Southgate’s current crop have the opportunity to usher in another memorable summer in what is essentially another European Championship at home.
As part of a special 96 year old boys series, Sky Sports News Journalist Mark McAdam is on a mission to speak to all members of the 22-player Euro 96 squad.
He will travel across the country in a fully electric van in search of everyone from David Seaman to Alan Shearer before a full team reunion next week.
Terry Venables’ 22-player squad for Euro 96
Goalkeepers: David Seaman (Arsenal), Tim Flowers (Blackburn Rovers), Ian Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Defenders: Gary Neville (Manchester United), Stuart Pearce (Nottingham Forest), Tony Adams (Arsenal), Gareth Southgate (Aston Villa), Steve Howey (Newcastle United), Sol Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur), Phil Neville (Manchester United)
Midfielder: Paul Ince (Inter Milan), David Platt (Arsenal), Paul Gascoigne (Rangers), Darren Anderton (Tottenham Hotspur), Nick Barmby (Middlesbrough), Jamie Redknapp (Liverpool), Steve McManaman (Liverpool), Steve Stone (Nottingham) Forest)
Forwards: Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers), Teddy Sheringham (Tottenham Hotspur), Les Ferdinand (Newcastle United), Robbie Fowler (Liverpool)
Current England manager Southgate, who played every minute in the heart of Venables’ defense in the semi-final race that summer, was the first squad member McAdam found in his search.
Recalling his memories of the tournament, Southgate said he wanted his team to recreate the magic that united the country as the tournament progressed.
“The spirit of the team, we are cultivating it now. This spirit that the public has found, the way the tournament has grown, the fan involvement has grown, that’s what we want to generate this summer,” did he declare.
“We had exceptional leaders in the Euro 96 team. There were a lot of experienced players, I was captain of my club but there was also Tony Adams, Stuart Pearce, Paul Ince, Teddy Sheringham, David Platt, all captains to their clubs.
“We had people who stood up in the big moments and fought together. Like any tournament you have guys who don’t play in games and they played their part really well. difficult but they gave themselves to the team. “
Neville: Pearce and Adams made me proud to be English
A fresh-faced Gary Neville was aiming to impress in his first major international tournament at age 21 in 1996.
He recalls being in awe of Stuart Pearce and Tony Adams’ pep talk in the dressing room before games and says he was never more proud to be English than when he lined up next to them .
He said: “I wish I could have taken a movie with a Pearce and Adams camera phone before games. I wish people could see it, it would make the hair stand on end to see how they were proud to play for England These three lions on the chest, the feeling of pride for their country.
“I couldn’t communicate it like they could, but I love this country. I’ve never said it much before, at that time I felt more proud to be English than at any time in my life. Pearce stood up, Adams would tackle him against the concrete wall, it was old school!
“The big thing I remember as a young player is Stuart Pearce telling me ‘this is as good as it gets.” I don’t know if that should inspire me or kill me because my career with l ‘England was never going to get better, but it was true too.
“I get goosebumps thinking about the times we scored against Scotland, Gazza’s goal or the night against the Netherlands, it was an out of body experience.”