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Talking ’bout My Generation: 1998 World Cup England Team

The supporters

It dawned on me today that it’s been twenty years since World Cup ’98. Apart from the realization that I’m getting better at maths it brought back memories of what I consider to be the best match I’ve ever watched – the quarter finals where England took on Argentina and lost thus ending the dream of England taking home the cup. Everyone has their own opinion about what they consider to be the best match they’ve ever seen, and my choice where England got knocked out of the tournament might be considered a strange one – but boy where do I begin???

England captain Shearer, Beckham, Anderton and Scholes… Just some of the greats!

Everyone who knows me knows I’m hardly what you would call sports mad. I don’t know the first thing about football and if you need someone to tell you what the offside rule is, I better not be your phone -a-friend! But the England vs Argentina quarter final game was the very first time that I’d sat down with my family and watched an entire match. The first time I’d watched England play a major game. The first time I realized why it was called the beautiful game; the pride fans feel when they watch their country play, the glory, agony, ecstasy, and everything in between that every football fan experiences. It’s so much more than just kicking a ball around or taking home a trophy. It’s about sportsmanship, pride and honour – all this from someone who still doesn’t consider herself a football fan!

England goalkeeper, David Seaman

I don’t have a sporting bone in my body so I’ll probably never be a fully fledged fan like most of my family. But from that match on, I developed a new-found sense of respect for the game. I may not necessarily support anyone at club level but I’m most definitely an England supporter through and through.

I still remember my family gathering around the living room after dinner to watch the match. My brother was in his England shirt, and my mum who’s even less of a sports fan than me was pretty much jumping up and down with excitement. To this day, I still don’t know if I was watching a football match or a soap episode: team captain Alan Shearer elbowing opponents in the face with a smirk (come on Alan, you know you did!) Sol Campbell ‘s disallowed goal; Darren Anderton running around the pitch like his life depended on it even though  he looked as though he was going to drop. But most shocking of all was David Beckham’s red card after lashing out at Diego Simeone – an incident that many fans feel prevented Glenn Hoddles’ boys from progressing further in the tournament. David got a real thrashing in the press and  I still remember the next day’s headlines: “10 brave lions. 1 stupid boy.” Posh Spice pleaded with the nation to go easy on David, saying that he didn’t deserve to be the most hated man in England. I may be in the minority but I actually agree with her as I think David’s subsequent treatment was very unfair. But hey – that’s just my non-expert opinion!

Honestly, I had no idea football could be so dramatic! And that’s before we even get to that penalty shoot-out. I didn’t realize it at the time but I think most of the nation knew it was over when it went to penalties. Let’s face it – England don’t do too well when it comes to penalties. We would have to wait until 2018 for the ‘curse’ to be broken (thanks Pickford!) But I think I that’s why I loved this match so much – that passion from the England team. That energy, that hunger to win. And to be honest I don’t think I’ve seen it since.

Paul Ince’s disappointment at missing the penalty

What amazes me now is where the last  twenty years have gone – World Cup ’98 was only yesterday surely! Even though the names Vardy,  Kane, Alli, and Sterling are on everyone’s lips, for me I still keep thinking Shearer, Owen, Ince, and Seaman. My parents had Charlton, Moore, Best (yes, I know he’s Irish but he was still one of the top players back in the day!) and Stiles but for me the 1998 England squad plus Gazza – who never should have been excluded – are the players of my generation. Sadly I can’t get my head around the fact that all those players have now retired. Aside from the fact that I realize how many years have gone by, I also realize that I’m old!  But at least that Southgate is still hanging about! Who would have thought back in 1998 that we would see Gareth Southgate leading the future England squad into the semis – the first since 1990? In twenty years time, the kids of today will be looking at the 2018 England squad as the football legends of their generation the same way the 1998 squad are of mine.

The 1998 World Cup was won by the host nation, France. Football may not have come home that year but I know I was a different person by the end of that game. As a Brit now living in America, I still feel that sense of pride in my country and in my national football team. People often talk about which stars would feature in their ultimate band, but if we’re going to talk about the ultimate England squad, then it would be the 1998 line up without any changes. Although at the very least I would have Gaza’s as a sub! I hope the squad tomorrow play with the same passion, fire, and determination as ‘my’ team.

Glenn Hoddle, distraught after the game

Come on, England – you’re almost home!

 

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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Sport

 

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The World Cup Dream May Be Over… But The Music Lives On

In just a matter of hours, World Cup 2014 will be over. Who will emerge victorious – Argentina or Germany? It won’t be England, that’s for sure! And the irony of two of England’s biggest sporting nemeses battling it out in the final isn’t lost on me.

 

I recently announced that I’ve accepted that I will never see England win the World Cup in my lifetime – which makes me wish that I’d been born before 1966! However, as this was the first time in fifty six years that England crashed out in the group stages, at least I can say I witnessed a piece of sporting history. That’s me – definitely a glass half full kind of girl!

 

However, despite almost fifty years of hurt (and shame) I’ve decided to give England one last chance. No, not to win the World Cup. I know I’m never going to see that happen, but to play much better than they did this year and to go much further in the tournament. We have four years to get over this setback, come up with a better strategy and a better team.

So, in a bid to cheer up disappointed England fans and to instil a sense of hope, I thought I’d share with you my four favourite awe-inspiring England World Cup songs. I remember there was always a great deal of excitement when the official England World Cup songs were released. Us kids would eagerly watch Top Of The Pops to check out the new tune and the feelings of anticipation and excitement were infectious – could this really be England’s year?

The tradition of the England World Cup songs began in 1966. The songs were released with the approval of the Football Association to coincide with the England national football team’s participation in the finals of the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship. Some of the official songs were surprisingly overshadowed by unofficial songs released around the same time. This year’s offering, Noble England was sung by the late Rik Mayall, who sadly passed away this year, making the song all the more poignant.

There are four songs that really stand out for me, and for which I feel there is probably no need for any more England World Cup.

1. Vindaloo, Fat Les

Released in 1998, this actually eclipsed the official song (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World, written by Ian McCulloch and performed by England United (Echo and the Bunnymen, Space, Spice Girls, Simon Fowler.) To be honest it wasn’t really much of a surprise as although the England United song is a great tune, it lacked that special something. Whereas Fat Les’s Vindaloo was humourous and is exactly the kind of thing you’d sing in the pub after a few pints. Performed by British band Fat Les, the music was written by Blur bassist Alex James while the lyrics were written by Keith Allen (lilly and Alfie’s dad!) Although it’s mainly just a series of chants and “nah-nah-nahs”, the song has remained a cult classic.

2. Three Lions, The Lightning Seeds/Baddiel & Skinner

Believe it or not, Fat Les’s anthem wasn’t the only unofficial tune that year to outdo the official England World Cup song. Three Lions, written by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, was originally released in 1996 as the official song for UEFA European Championship. It was such a hit, it was brought out again two years later for the World Cup, though not as the official song. Not that it mattered too much because everyone thought it was! And to be honest it’s pretty much remained England’s anthem for every tournament – the lyrics say it all. It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming – football’s coming home… OK so it never does, but we can always hope!

3. World In Motion, New Order feat. The England Squad

I don’t care what anyone says; this should be the song the players sing before the start of the match not the national anthem (no disrespect.) If ever there was an upbeat number to get you fired up and cause some damage on the pitch, this would be it. The only problem would be that the players would squabble over who should do Barnesy’s rap! Released in 1990 for the FIFA World Cup, it was written by New Order and Keith Allen, and topped the charts. This tune is my joint fave along with Three Lions, and brings back so many wonderful memories. How I long for it to be 1990 again!

4. Goldenballs (Mr. Beckham To You) Bell and Spurling

OK, so this wasn’t actually an official or unofficial song for any football tournament, but rather an ode to David Beckham, who was a fantastic footballer and icon, and the George Best of my generation (but without the excess!) by comedy duo Martin Bell and Johnny Spurling. It was released in 2002 and only got as far as number 25 in the charts, but I still reckon it’s a great tune. My then twelve year old brother could not stop singing the chorus which drove us all mad but as I said – top tune!

And now – let the finals begin!

 

 

 
 

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Video

World Cup ’98: England Does Us Proud!

World Cup 2014 is still under way but unfortunately England’s early exit from the tournament has dulled our enthusiasm for a sporting event we’d spent the last four years looking forward to. To be honest despite my disappointment, I can’t say I’m too surprised – I’ve never seen a team play with so little passion and enthusiasm. I may not be a football expert or a professional footballer but from what I saw, I don’t think the England team gave it their all. ‘Could have done better’ is an understatement. This, I believe, is the second time that England has been knocked out after two matches, and for me, 2014 will be the year that our national team flopped spectacularly. What did they think this was – the Eurovision Song Contest? No room for nul points here!

 

I think back to World Cup ’98 in France. It was the very first World Cup tournament I followed closely (thanks to my then eight year old brother) and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s so memorable for me. The other reason is because I still remember how the England team played in their match against Argentina – the match in which die-hard England fans were hoping that England would avenge Maradona’s 1986 hand of God goal. And those England players really did take to the pitch as though they were going to war and totally played their football socks off. Yes, some underhand tactics were used (cough, cough, Mr. Shearer!) there was fury when Sol Campbell’s goal was disallowed (seriously, Ref, what was that all about?) and who could forget the tears, tantrums and frustration as Goldenballs himself, David Beckham, was given a red card. But I remember how  the England squad played and gave it everything they got. No one could ever forget the two goals scored by Michael Owen and the team’s captain Alan Shearer. And even though he didn’t score, Darren Anderton was commended for his performance and I can see why – poor Darren looked ready to drop but he went after that ball as though his life depended on it.

At home, we were all on the edge of our seats, screaming wildly at the telly – even Mum who normally has no time for footy. My little brother – who was in his England shirt – was the quietest even though he’s the most fanatical about football, but his little face was etched with worry one minute and brimming with exhilaration the next. We thought that this time, England might just have a chance.

But alas it was not to be as England went home without the cup yet again. It was a tie between the two teams, so it went into extra time, followed by penalties, which Argentina eventually won. But the difference back then was that we could be proud of our team for putting up an almighty fight and for playing as a team – I feel there was a real sense of brotherhood which didn’t sense with our current squad. I really believe they did our country proud. And even though, I never became what you could call a football fanatic, I definitely fell in love with our national team – and all because of one match. Who thought football could be so dramatic?

The night didn’t end so well. Little brother stomped up the stairs; opened the door to his room; switched on the light; slammed the door shut; turned off the light and went to bed – probably while still in his England shirt.

If only he knew that worse was yet to come… and how the team back then could have taught our current team a thing or two.

Do us proud in 2018, England!

 

 

 
 

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