‘It’s coming home…’

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I was 9 when Gareth Southgate broke England’s hearts with his soft penalty. After one of the most exciting, pulsating, end to end games I have ever witnessed, England were out. I’m not ashamed to say that I wept. I am slightly ashamed to say that I wept again when watching Alan Shearer’s brilliant documentary however…

Euro 96 isn’t my earliest football memory (that belongs to Doncaster Rovers and Belle Vue or the 1995 Cup Winners Cup final – shout out to Nayim) but it marked the first time that football really properly mattered to me. Would I be so hopelessly in love with the Beautiful Game had Euro 96 not taken place during such an impressionable time in my childhood? Perhaps not. Either way I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Whilst Alan Shearer makes for an awkward presenter at times, nobody can deny his authority on the subject having scored in almost every game during Euro ’96.  Interviews with fellow players Teddy Sheringham, Paul Ince, Gazza et al are illuminating as is a word from El Tel himself, former England manager Terry Venables (hilariously interviewed at his sprawling Spanish mansion).

It was truly wondrous to relive Gazza’s goal against Scotland, the thumping of Holland, Psycho’s penalty against Spain and the ultimate familiar heartbreak at the hands of Germany. Interviews with David Baddiel and Frank Skinner in regards to their iconic terrace anthem ‘Three Lions’ also injected a bit of levity as well as an everyman quality missing from interviews with millionaire ex pros. More sobering however, were the interviews with Paul Gascoigne. Gazza always seems seconds away from either laughing or bursting into tears but he never fails to be compelling.

There are numerous references during When Football Came Home to Euro ’96 being a once in a lifetime event and 20 years on, days after England limped past Portugal 1-0, it definitely feels like the atmosphere, players and general mood of the country will never reach the same heady mix as it did during that glorious summer.