Nostalgia can come home - but less hype please

Alan Shearer celebrates with Teddy Sheringham after scoring England's third goal in the 4-1 win over Holland at Euro 96

Alan Shearer celebrates with Teddy Sheringham after scoring England's third goal in the 4-1 win over Holland at Euro 96

AUDREY HEPBURN As she was in 1956       Picture: Bud Fraker/Wikipedia

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Today marks the anniversary of one of the finest nights in the history of English football.

Euro 96. England 4 Holland 1. Shearer and Sheringham. Football’s coming home.

No wonder the urge to reminisce is so deeply ingrained into our national psyche.

Three days after Paul Gascoigne was being doused in the contents of a drinks bottle after his Scotland wonder goal, the Dutch were being demolished at Wembley.

Paul Ince’s driving run being ended by Danny Blind at the expense of a penalty.

Teddy Sheringham taking centre stage with two goals and a typically delicate set, which dovetailed beautifully with the brute force of Alan Shearer’s finish.

Gus Hiddink’s side of Bergkamp, De Boer, Seedorf, Winter, Cruyff, Kluivert & Co were blown away in 62 minutes of irresistible wing-back football.

Flags waved, beer flowed and patriotism danced with a sense of footballing worth rarely felt on these shores since 1966.

And, sadly, we’ve barely tasted it since.

As a nation, we aren’t averse to a round of misty-eyed nostalgia or 10.

But when you look for the moments of big-tournament inspiration in the ensuing years since Euro 96, the reasons for continually harping back become clearer: There’s hardly any to speak of.

Four days after dispatching Holland, Terry Venables’ side scraped a 0-0 draw with Spain over 120 minutes, before a rare penalty shootout win.

Since that day the Three Lions have picked up just two wins over sides regarded as top-line nations in the finals of major tournaments.

By my estimation, Alan Shearer’s goal which earned a group-stage win over Germany in Euro 2000 and David Beckham holding his nerve from the penalty spot against Argentina at the World Cup 2002, rank as the two wins which fit into that category.

Otherwise, it’s a long list of big-tournament disappointments.

Of course, three days after the Germany win our Euro hopes were over following a desperately disappointing defeat to Romania.

And it was a loss to 10-man Brazil and David Seaman misjudging Ronaldinho’s free-kick which did it for England in Japan.

Germany (1996), Argentina (1998), Romania (2000), Brazil (2002), Portugal (2004), Portugal (2006), Germany (2010), Italy (2012) and Uruguay (2014) read the full-list of England finals executioners.

Throw in a 2008 European Championship no-show after Steve McLaren kept dry under his brolly against Croatia, and there’s not been much to cheer about since 96.

No wonder the urge to reminisce is so deeply ingrained into our national psyche.

It’s almost as strong as our desire to spout hyperbole at the first sight of England doing anything right.

And so we come to England’s 100-per-cent record in the current European qualifying campaign.

Sunday’s win in Slovenia sees them six points clear in Group E, with Jack Wilshere’s goals the spectacular veneer to victory. Then came the noise.

‘We can take on any team in the world,’ tweeted Harry Redknapp (an amusing concept in itself), before adding we can win in France.

Others threw their weight behind hopes of a memorable charge to glory.

Wall-to-wall sports media coverage is a fertile breeding ground for such hysteria.

And it won’t take much for that to build into a frenzy at the sight of one of those final wins we have been so lacking in next summer.

I’ll being trying my best to steer clear of that great national trait of getting far too carried away over not a lot.

But, 19 years on from Holland 4-1, I’ll be guilty of a bout of Three Lions nostalgia today.

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