Twenty-five years after England’s dramatic Euro 96 campaign revived the nation’s love affair with football, the Three Lions want to emulate the golden summer when football came home.
England manager Gareth Southgate leads his team into their opening match of the European Championship against Croatia, at Wembley, on Sunday.
It should be a memorable occasion as England play on home turf, at a major tournament, for the first time, since Euro 96.
For Southgate, England’s role as one of several hosts of the delayed Euro 2020 offers a chance for redemption, after his penalty miss, condemned the country to Euro 96 semi-final heartache against Germany.
If England can create the same wave of national enthusiasm that Terry Venables’ team surfed 25 years ago, Southgate will have a chance of winning a first major title for the country since the 1966 World Cup.
English football was undergoing a long-awaited rebirth by the time Euro 96 arrived, recovering from a dark period in which its image was badly damaged by hooligan gangs, who clashed in decaying stadiums.