History repeats itself as England fall short at the death

England have done it again, after looking certain winners from Eric Diers screamer free-kick to being canceled out by Russia in the dying seconds.

Despite total dominance from the Three Lions, they failed to close out on the three points. What makes this situation even worse is that they will play rivals Wales in five days’ time.

 Regardless of the result, we should write off England just yet.

50 years since they last won an international tournament, England find themselves with a real chance to make a statement at the European Championships in France this time around. Kicking their tournament off against Russia in the French city of Marseille, Roy Hodgson selected a team that consists of young, talented and determined Englishmen who are still hoping to write themselves in folklore and as England fans say ‘bring football home’.

Many football fans around the world are accustomed to the English Premier League being one of the best leagues in world football and being home to some the worlds finest players including Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard and Mesut Ozil. Despite this, for many years we have seen the England national team levitate between being a team full of mediocrity or a side that was on the cusp of greatness but managed to fall short on the final hurdle. In the history of the European championships, England have tremendously underachieved in recent tournaments.

In Euro 2004, England failed to get past the quarter-finals after being beaten by Portugal 6-5 on penalties. A format England don’t seem to win very often in major tournaments. Euro 2008 saw the worst of the England national team. Not because they lost on penalties in the knockout stages, or failing to get out of the group stages but England failed to even qualify for the championships in Austria-Switzerland. Finishing third behind Russia and Croatia, the England national team were at one of its lowest points in the last decade. At a time where England’s ‘golden generation’ was reaching its latter stages, then-manager Steve McClaren failed to lead the so-called ‘golden generation’ to European qualification and was sacked for not doing so.

Come 2016 and the England national team is in a completely new era. Most of the players from the golden generation’ have retired including Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Ashley Cole but now there’s a breath of fresh air in the Three Lions camp. With captain and England’s leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney in their ranks, manager Roy Hodgson has the chance to take England all the way with the new batch England’s finest young starlets. Among those include Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Ross Barkley, Marcus Rashford and John Stones to name a few.

It’s no secret that England have an attacking threat in ranks. Tottenham striker Harry Kane will has marked his status as the main man up front for the three lions after an impressive Premier League seasons with Tottenham. Alongside him is man who probably never thought he’d play for his country in a major international tournament. Jamie Vardy’s incredible story from playing non-league football to becoming a premier league champion with Leicester City has lead him to being one of the first names on Roy Hodgson’s squad. And still Hodgson decided to side with Rooney over Vardy. In Dele Alli, England have one the finest midfielders they’ve seen since the days of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. The 20-year-old had a spectacular season, almost winning the league with Tottenham. In John Stones, they potentially have the next John Terry in their ranks. The Everton centre back attracted interest from Chelsea at the beginning of last season, only to see Chelsea have their £40million ($77million AUD) bid rejected. A ball-playing centre back, England can use Stones to their advantage in defence and it’ll be interesting to see how Hodgson plans to deploy Stones in his side.

For the first time in a very long time. England didn’t seem pressured to perform in France. The new batch of talent will probably see England treat the Euro’s as a progression tournament for the young players, Assessing how far they’ve come and how far they need to go to reach the heights they need to get to. Nonetheless, England can be very excited with squad. Full of talent, determination, hunger. Of course it’s too early to tell but with a squad so unpredictable, we’ll have to wait and see if football will be coming in 2016.

Ben Owusu