The European Championships has produced some mixed results for England and a look back at their first qualifying attempt for the 1964 finals may lead some to argue that their performance on that occasion set the tone.
Gareth Southgate’s men are the
9/2 favourites for glory this summer but the Three Lions have never made the final of the tournament, let alone been crowned champions.
After not entering the inaugural edition of the European Nations Cup in 1960, the FA decided to throw their hat into the ring for the Finals due to be held in 1964 and were drawn against France in the preliminary qualifying round.
The opening game of the two-legged tie took place at Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium on October 3, 1962.
A crowd of 35,380 gathered to see Rennes midfielder Yvon Goujon break the deadlock on eight minutes for Henri Guerin’s team.
England hit back through Wolves’ three-time First Division winner Ron Flowers, a strike that gave the now-84-year-old the distinction of scoring his country’s first-ever goal in the Euros.
The midfielder’s 57th-minute penalty tied things up at 1-1, leaving it all to play for when the sides resumed their rivalry in Paris the following February.
In Walks Alf
However, football historians will be aware there had been a significant change in the England dugout between the two fixtures. Walter Winterbottom had left his role as manager after 16 years in charge to be replaced by Alf Ramsey.
Ramsey had earned 32 caps as a right-back and despite his somewhat humble origins, having grown up in Dagenham, he earned a reputation as a studious player and took his enlightened approach into management, guiding Ipswich to the league title in 1962.
Paris Pain for Ramsey
Despite the optimism surrounding his appointment, his reign did not start well in a freezing Paris. The Three Lions found themselves 3-0 down and, despite goals from Bobby Smith and Bobby Tambling, Les Bleus,
5/1 for Euro 2020 glory, pulled clear with another pair of strikes to claim a 5-2 win on the day, 6-3 on aggregate.
An entertaining yet inauspicious start for Ramsey but as they say, the rest is history. Two of that day’s starters, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, went on to play in the 1966 World Cup final win over Germany, with seven other members of that team included in the squad.
Many of those players would also go on to finish third in the European Championships of 1968, losing 1-0 to Yugoslavia in the semi-finals of the four-team Finals tournament, before beating the Soviet Union 2-0 in a play-off.
England’s first experience of the Euros was a difficult one and those who watched the Three Lions eliminated by Iceland five years ago will argue things haven’t got much better. However, a chunk of that team also went on to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy. With the current crop so talented, could England’s poor record receive a rapid overhaul this summer?
*All odds correct at time of writing