I know the title of this blog post may seem a tad farfetched for those cynical followers amongst you – and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that.
But, just look a little closer at some of the defining moments of England’s campagins in the last twenty years or so.
There have been times where, if fractional decisions had or hadn’t been made, England’s history books would be completely different.
And here are the biggest ‘what if’ moments for England of recent tournaments.
1990 – If Stuart Pearce had gone the other way
For those of you too young to remember – we got to the semi-final of this World Cup. We went out to West Germany.
There were a few what if moments from that fateful game against our oldest rivals…
1/ What if Gazza hadn’t received a yellow card?
Gazza was on fire in this tournament. And he’d started this game with such a buzz. But he received a yellow card that meant, should England reach the final, he would be suspended. He was in tears. Gary Linekar shot that famous look toward the benches to say Gazza was losing it.
Gazza’s momentum stopped, and he had a quiet game after that.
What if that hadn’t have affected him mentally?
2/ If Waddle’s went an inch to the left
Waddle had a shot in extra-time that hit the post.
IT HIT THE POST!
Just one inch to the left, we would have got an extra-time goal. Back in those days, it was golden goal extra-time – which meant a goal in extra time ended the match and that team won.
Just one inch to the left, it would have missed the post, gone past the keeper, and gone in. We’d have been in the final.
3/ If Stuart Pearce had gone to the other side
As it was, the game went to penalties. And Stuart Pearce had his penalty saved.
What if he’d gone to the other side?
That split moment decision as to which way to place the ball. Such fine margins are games rested on.
1996 – If Germany’s penalty was 2cm the other way
Again, we got to the semi-final. Again, we faced Germany.
Germany’s third penalty in the shootout grazed Seaman’s hands. It grazed his hands. 2cm along and it would have made good contact with his fingers, and be saved.
Then Gareth Southgate had a penalty missed.
Again, in that one moment, what if he had directed his penalty to the other side?
This tournament was on England’s turf, and we had the strong home advantage, that would have likely seen us through the final, and to the trophy.
2004 – Beckham blames the spot
What if Beckham hadn’t skied his penalty?
What if there was actually something wrong with the penalty spot, as Beckham claimed?
What if the opposition went first, and skied it because of the penalty spot, then Beckham could adjust accordingly for his first penalty?
2010 South Africa – Over the line? Not again…
We all know Lampard’s goal against Germany in the round of 16 was over the line.
That would have been 2-2.
As it was, we had to push forward so much trying to find our goal, we got caught on the counter twice.
That goal would have given us so much belief.
Everyone knew it was in, beside the officials. Lampard had even started celebrating.
It’s not much comfort, I know. But maybe, when you’re sat there following our next knockout at Russia 2018, you can drift off, and daydream about how things could have been so, so different…