“Football is coming home! The song that has become so synonymous with England in international football tournaments is once again sung proudly in the streets of Euro 2020, including by former captain Tony Adams.
England, led by Adams’ Euro 1996 teammate Gareth Southgate, face Scotland at Wembley in their second group stage game on Friday, with a chance to reach the last 16 with a win.
Adams and Southgate both played crucial roles 25 years ago – Adams wore the captain’s armband in 1996, while Southgate missed the crucial penalty in the semi-final loss to Germany.
Adams, now a self-proclaimed fan like the mainstream nationwide, is optimistic his ‘big buddy’ Southgate is forming a squad that could propel England to major tournament success.
“I see the players now and they are all together,” said Adams Sky Sports News.
“It’s a good team of players, they might not be the most talented team in the tournament in my opinion, but this tournament is an underdog tournament.
“Sometimes the team with the best group of players doesn’t win this competition.
“In a league, 38 games, the best players usually win the league.
“When it comes to a cup competition… where team spirit really matters in these situations, the team can be so much more powerful than the individuals on those teams.”
Adams was the leader at Euro 96 for both the title and his presence on the pitch under Terry Venables as the Three Lions captured fans’ imaginations at the home tournament.
In 1996, England started with an irrelevant draw against Switzerland, before a 2-0 victory over Scotland was followed by a dominant display against the Netherlands as they progressed through the tournament.
Adams admits that the morale the team built was in part a result of the criticism the players faced during their drinking session during a pre-tournament trip to Hong Kong.
“We had a great team spirit in 1996,” he recalls.
“We had great players, great individuals, but we also had a group of players who were together.
“With the incidents in Hong Kong, we took collective responsibility for this and we all drove as a tight-knit unit.”
Reflecting on the victory over Scotland and Paul Gascoigne’s momentous goal and the iconic ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration that followed, Adams said: “It was like him winning the day.
“After the game against Switzerland, going to Scotland, we really tackled that skill which was just magical. It was a piece of genius that he buckled the defender and put him aside.
“He got the credit and all the accolades he subsequently deserved.”
Adams’ side would beat Spain in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals, before the heartbreaking loss to Germany in the quarter-finals.
England finally got over their penalty sentences to beat Colombia on their way to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals under Southgate.
“He’s just a wonderfully warm human being and he deserves all the credit he’s getting right now,” Adams said of Southgate’s job as national team boss.
So what’s achievable for England, who started their Euro 2020 campaign with a win over Croatia this summer?
“I see goals for this team, a lot of creative players,” said Adams. “I don’t think we’ll be short of goals.
“I am very impressed with the Italians and the way they started the tournament and they are going to be resilient.
“I always watch the defenses and to win this tournament you have to do some good defensive displays. Whether we can do that or not, I’m not sure.
“There has already been redemption. I’m not going to blame him because he had a talented season, but John Stones fell asleep when we lost to Croatia in 2018 and we have already overcome that.
“Maybe we’ll play against Germany, or we have a penalty shootout and we win it and take it to the next level. Dreams are free!”