David Beckham and Michael Owen entered their first international tournament.
Beckham still hadn’t had his infamous red card yet. Owen hadn’t scored his hat trick against Germany in 2001.
We’d gotten to the semi-finals of 96.
The country had hope.
Scotland thought Brazil would be the toughest team of Group A – and ended up losing 3-0 to Morocco.
England were in Group G, managed by Glenn Hoddle – a man who was later sacked for voicing his controversial beliefs.
And we began with…
England Vs Tunisia
Simple victory – as simple as England have ever had, at least.
Shearer heads in a free kick.
Scholes curls in from the edge of the penalty area.
England Vs Romania
Moldova beats Tony Adams to the ball and scores, putting us one down early on.
Then Michael Owen equalises.
He becomes the youngest player to ever score for Engalnd in a World Cup.
He dives on the floor in celebration.
… And Petrescus beats Le Seuaz to the ball and scores. We lose 2-1.
England Vs Columbia
Anderton scores a volley for the three lions.
(Who is Anderton? I have no idea. Never heard of him. But he scored for us nonetheless. See if you recognise him below…)
Beckham fires in his first goal for England from a free kick.
The future of the England team with this golden generation looks so good, doesn’t it?
Surely, we’ll win something soon.
Round of Sixteen Vs Argentina
Ronaldo has put Brazil through against Chile with a penalty – but no, not that Ronaldo. The Brazilian Ronaldo.
France have gone through with a golden goal by Laurent Blanc.
And we face a tough test in Argentina.
But with this team, surely we’ll go through?
Batistuta scores for the Argentinians, cupping his arms like a baby in celebration, to commemorate the birth of his first child. That child will be twenty this year.
Shearer scores a penalty.
Owen dribbles from the half way line, through numerous defenders, and scores. Incredible goal from the eighteen-year-old. And we’re in the lead!
A well practised free-kick leads to the equaliser from Zanelti.
2-2. Extra time goes by.
Then comes the infamous red card from Beckham. On the floor, he lifts his foot to give a small kick at the player walking past – and that one sweeping movement will now forever be remembered as the moment Beckham was vilified. Burning efegies hung in streets. People turned hostile, and Beckham trudged off the field in disgrace.
And guess what happens next.
I don’t even need to tell you, do I?
Argentina go through to be knocked out by Holland. Croatia beat Germany 3-0.
Brazil beat Holland in the semis, and France beat Croatia.
I recorded this final on VHS tape, and still have it in a cupboard in my parent’s house.
Zidane twice heads the ball off his bald spot and Barthez of Man Utd elebrated in goal.
France win 3-0, winning on their home turf.