25 years have passed, and England head coach Gareth Southgate for many fans is the same guy who missed a penalty kick to the Germans in the semifinals at Euro 1996, which is why the Three Lions team was eliminated. That European Championship is special for the British, who still remember this tournament with warmth and nostalgia. The legendary song Football Coming Home, which is still sung by fans, Paul Gascoigne’s goal for the Scots, the general atmosphere of celebration in a country recovering from a harsh decade of Thatcherism.
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England and the penalty shootout are a long history of pain and frustration, starting in the 1990 World Cup semi-finals against Germany. At Euro 1996, by the way, there was a moment of enlightenment – in the quarterfinals the hosts passed Spain in the 11-meter series. There, by the way, there was a beautiful story – the third among the British went to beat Stuart Pearce, nicknamed Psycho. At the 1990 World Cup, he also beat third and did not score – the mistake was decisive. This time, Pierce realized his attempt, closed the gestalt, and England again went to Germany in the semifinals.
At Wembley, the motivated hosts immediately rushed to the attack, and already in the 3rd minute Alan Shearer opened the scoring after Tony Adams’ discount. The Germans quickly bounced back – Stefan Kunz closed Thomas Helmer’s cross. In the future, the teams were closer to sending one of the rivals to the hospital than to the winning goal – several moments of that game would have ended with deletions in the GAR era.
It was at Euro 1996 that the golden goal rule was in effect for the first time, but the teams did not use it. The British attacked more dangerous: Darren Anderton hit the post, and Gascoigne in the jump did not quite reach Shearer’s cross. As a result, the Germans will nevertheless become champions thanks to the innovation, but for now they were faced with a penalty shootout with England.
Germany goalkeeper Andreas Kepke later said that he was ready for the penalty kicks: “Of course, we were preparing for a possible penalty shootout, and I analyzed the potential hitters for the British with goalkeeping coach Sepp Mayer.”
In fact, Kepke’s knowledge did not help him much at first. The British first five shots were perfect, according to the Bundestim goalkeeper.
“The sixth hit from Southgate was the first unsuccessful, and I was able to repulse it,” Kepke recalled.
For the Germans, the sixth shot was played by Andreas Möller. The midfielder of the German national team, without fear, struck in the center to the very bar.
In 2018, Southgate stated that he volunteered to shoot the penalty on that ill-fated evening: “Yes, I was a volunteer then. Although, of course, the question from head coach Terry Venables, whether I am ready to strike, sounded like a bolt from the blue. Before that my career as a penalty taker was short: I hit only once and missed while still playing for Crystal Palace.
Since then, Southgate has earned the reputation of a guy who “missed that same penalty in 1996”. It’s funny, but with Sauggate as head coach, England finally won the penalty shootout – after flying to the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2004, 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012: at the 2018 World Cup in the 1/8 finals, the “Three Lions” team passed Colombia. But all the same, the ghost of that game will not go anywhere – again, in fact, home for England the European Championship, again Wembley, again a playoff match with Germany.