For English football fans, after the World Cup of 66, there’s Euro 96. England were the hosts, and they enjoyed the elation, the glory… of reaching the semi-finals then going out on penalties.
So yes, all right, football didn’t quite make it all the way home – it was foiled at the garden gate. But England’s semi-final exit was far from the whole story. From their 4-1 triumph over Holland to Gazza’s chip-and-volley against Scotland and heartbreak against eventual winners Germany, it was the closest England had come to international success in three decades – and oh, how close they came!
With just ten days to go until Euro 2016 kicks off, what better time to reflect on a tournament that defined a decade? And who better to do it with than Alan Shearer, Euro 96’s top scorer and all-round England legend?
Hence Alan Shearer’s Euro 96: When Football Came Home, in which the former striker does the rounds, meeting up with old friends and teammates including Teddy Sheringham, David Seaman and Paul Ince – the gang’s all here! He also grills David Baddiel and Frank Skinner on the making of their England anthem Three Lions (Shearer’s questing opening gambit reflects the high school reunion atmosphere: “What are you guys up to now?”).
And if you ever wondered what happened to former England gaffer Terry Venables, you’re in luck: Alan’s tracked him down to his palatial hotel on Spain’s Costa Blanca, where he’s surrounded by stunning scenery – and copies of his autobiography. Hotel owning is hard work, he tells Shearer. “It can’t be that hard work,” comes the reply, “You look unbelievable… for your age.”
As any Match of the Day viewer will know, Shearer’s not exactly a dynamic on-screen presence, but he’s likable enough, and besides, who cares? If the ’96 tournament was a defining moment in the life of the English football fan, just think what it meant to him; you can’t blame him (and us) for wanting to relive it.
For a Britpop-soundtracked shot of laddish 90s nostalgia, it can’t be bettered.
And it’ll make you wonder: 20 years later, could England’s young guns provide another championship to remember? The 10th of June can’t come soon enough.
Alan Shearer’s Euro 96: When Football Came Home is on tonight at 10:45pm on BBC1