The United Kingdom has a storied relationship with football and football culture, but that’s never really translated to success in international competitions, bar England’s 1966 World Cup win.

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Perennial underachievers England, underdogs Republic of Ireland, and first-timers Northern Ireland and Wales will be vying to create history in France at Euro 2016.

Why teams from the United Kingdom have never really fulfilled their potential is inexplicable – it could be a fundamental problem with the youth system, it could be a coaching problem, or it could be something to do with egos and motivation.

One thing that cannot be blamed, however, is the undying support of the fans.

English football fans get their hopes up every two years for the major international competitions, just to be let down by underwhelming performances and disjointed squads.

They hold the unfortunate record of being the only World Cup winners from Europe to have not lifted the Henri Delaunay Cup, having reached the semi-finals twice, but never the grand final.

In the last quarter-century, the Three Lions have been kicked out of the Euros on penalties three times, cementing their reputation as the opposite of penalty shoot-out specialists.

But as the English fans always say, this could be their year.

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They, along with Wales, should beat Russia and Slovakia to progress to the knockout stages, from which point anything is possible.

Going in with a young and hungry squad will benefit the English, but the criticism of Hodgson’s tactics does not go unwarranted – not allowing the players to express themselves could hinder their chances going forward.

His insistence on playing Wayne Rooney, despite his relatively poor form when compared to his direct competition within the squad, has also been a focal point of Hodgson’s critics.

Wales join them in Group B, and could well be the surprise package of the tournament.

The Welsh Dragons under manager Chris Coleman have become something of a force, understanding their weaknesses and playing to their strengths – namely Bale and Ramsey.

With a solid core of Premier League players, and the match-winning abilities of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Wales could surpass expectations and go on to emulate the famous Greece side of 2004.

The Irish go into the competition with little expectation, and while the bigger nations will see them as being there to make up the numbers, they should not be discounted.

Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland side will look to their all-time top scorer Robbie Keane to lead the way, hoping he can overcome recent injury problems to front up against Sweden on June 12.

Northern Ireland, under Michael O’Neill, have the tactical nous to fluidly switch from a back four to a back three, accommodating three of the country’s biggest footballing names in Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart.

The Republic of Ireland managed a draw and a home win against reigning world champions Germany during qualifying, and Northern Ireland finished top of their qualifying group, so write them off at your own peril.

If things go right, and England don’t have to face yet another penalty shoot-out, it could be the UK’s year after all.

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