Its fifty years since England lifted the greatest national team prize of all, The Jules Rimet trophy AKA The World Cup and Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions could be Destined to go all the way for the very first time in The European Championships.
The Jamie Vardy ‘Movie’ which has the Leicester striker rise from non-League obscurity to a Premier League Champion wouldn’t be complete without him – starring in the Sir Geoff Hurst role – lifting an international trophy.
And Wayne Rooney, who has suffered repeatedly on the highest international stage through a combination of injury, indiscipline and the inadequacy of his teammates is set to leave the best till last in a dramatic redemption.
Having broken Sir Bobby Charlton’s All-Time England Goals record, the England Captain and Man United man looks set to star in an attacking midfield role for his country from which the Geordie Red Devils legend fired The Three Lions glory.
Roy Hodgson cut his final squad down to 23 with Andros Townsend & Danny Drinkwater axed while young Marcus Rashford – just 18 years old – made the plane, a mere twinkling in his father’s eye at Euro ’96 never mind England ’66.
England legend Alan Shearer was particularly critical of the decision to omit Danny Drinkwater from the Euros squad while Italia ’90 star Chris Waddle believes Hodgson was wrong to leave out Newcastle’s Andros Townsend:
‘I would have kept Townsend in because he’s the only winger we’ve got. Sterling is more of a player who likes to float around and Milner can play on the wing but again prefers to be involved in the middle.”
Do England possess a left-sided attacker and free-kick taker capable of magic like this?
Yet for all the debate surrounding the big name omissions and inclusions, its an England squad where if everything goes right, then Captain Wayne Rooney could be left holding the trophy at the Stade De France on July 10th.
In goal, Joe Hart has wobbled uncharacteristically of late yet is, at his bes,t one of the best keepers in the world and Hodgson will be hoping he has got his mistakes – like the goal against Turkey in The Etihad friendly – out of his system.
Defensively, Hodgson is spoiled for choice at full-back with Nathaniel Clyne and Kyle Walker equally adept at right-back while Danny Rose is an automatic choice at left-back following an excellent title-challenging season at Spurs.
The lack of a truly commanding centre-back is perhaps The Three Lion’s biggest weakness and the reason there were calls for the late inclusion of stalwart John Terry from Ray Wilkins et al. but with Spurs’ Eric Dier protecting a defensive pairing of Gary Cahill and either Chris Smalling or John Stones, a solid defensive unit emerges overall.
In the middle of the park, a lot depends on Jack Wilshire, who should be the freshest player in Europe after a season on the sidelines at Arsenal. If he can quickly regain match fitness and top form, he could be critical to a flourishing England side.
Potential match-winners and flair players litter the England squad from Ross Barkley, who should have been given more of a chance in Brazil at the last World Cup to Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling, long overdue a performance for his country to remind people why Manchester City paid Liverpool £50M for him.
Special mention also go to the 5th best player, statistically, in Europe according to the renowned SOCAR Player Barometer, Liverpool’s James Milner, whose experience and influence could give England a vital edge:
“The data considered for each player is specific to the position type. For example, tackles and interceptions are considered to be key statistics for defensive midfielders, while successful dribbles and crosses are core stats for wingers.”
Yet the only stat that truly matters this summer is the 0 in England’s European Championships Won column, a deficit that must be addressed on the football pitches of France as the nation debates whether to leave the European Union.
As one great sporting Ali, Muhammad, departs the sporting stage, a younger one, Spurs Dele Alli, could be set for greatness coming in at 15th on the above UEFA scale and itching to make his mark on international European football.
Its often remarked – certainly in East London – that West Ham United won England the 1966 World Cup having provided three key figures in the World Cup-winning XI – Bobby Moore OBE, Martin Peters and hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst.
And Spurs recently had FOUR players in the England starting line-up that came back from 2-0 down to beat Germany 3-2 – Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Dele Alli and Eric Dier, who scored the last-winner and spoke of a special bond with his club and country team-mates as well as the pressing and never-say-die philosophy instilled in the quartet by Mauro Pochettino.
Wayne Rooney can glitter in the no. 10 role once the province of Sir Bobby Charlton, whose goal-scoring exploits he has now surpassed for England and Euro 2016 represents Last Chance International Saloon to produce his best when it matters.
There are plenty of goals and pace among young guns Harry Kane and man of the moment Jamie Vardy, 24 and 28 goals respectively for their Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City sides, who competed for the Premier League crown.
England doesn’t expect glory yet after a special and unexpected Premier League season when the League’s unlikeliest team Leicester City won the title, anything seems possible once more for English football.
After 56 years of hurt in the competition, if Rooney, Vardy, Dele Alli & his 3 Spursketeers continue the excellent form with which they ended the English season, the famous name of the country who invented the game will be on the trophy.