If the tabloids over the early 2000s were to be believed, England’s Golden Generation should have won everything from the Euros to the World Cup, but the reality couldn’t be any further from the truth. By the time the last of that fabled generation had retired, the only international success they had to show for themselves was a quarter-final loss at the 2006 World Cup against Portugal. Undoubtedly, the lows exceeded the highs time after time.
More disaster was to come for this generation with a round of 16 dumping out at the hands of Germany at the 2010 World Cup which was astonishingly followed by a first-round exit at the 2014 World Cup. There was a marginal upturn in results after another round of 16 departure at the 2016 Euro championships.
It’s a pitiful record and the football was anything but enjoyable to witness. Who can forget the 0-0 against Algeria in 2010 or the 1-1 against the USA at the same tournament? Indeed, what about the 0-0 draw with Costa Rica four years later in Brazil, or the painful memories of being knocked out of the Euros by Iceland?
Egos, Tactics, and Bad Managers
What more can any honest fan say other than the football over that time was slow and lethargic, heavy and lumpy, but most of all, it was embarrassing. Indeed, this England side would always arrive at a tournament with the most fanfare thanks to the media who would talk them up at every stage despite a record that suggested there were few worse teams in major tournaments than England. For all the brilliance of Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, or the talented boy wonder Wayne Rooney, England came away with nothing to show for it.
Up until now, no one knows exactly why this was the case. Rio Ferdinand suggested that it was to do with the rivalry amongst his teammates who played for opposing Premier League teams and Michael Owen has revealed that it had to do with tactics. Indeed, the 2001 Ballon d’Or winner has cited the famous argument of managers not knowing how to utilize Gerrard or Lampard in the same team. In reality, it’s a tired argument and one that no longer makes the sense it did at one stage now that we’ve seen Gareth Southgate’s England.
The Three Lions Roar for All of England
That’s not to say that England now has a team of average players whose only option of success is working as a cohesive unit, because this English side is immensely talented. You just have to consider that Harry Kane will in all likelihood become the nation’s all-time top scorer, or that Raheem Sterling is forecasted to comfortably outscore Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, and Alan Shearer at international level. Make no mistake, this England team is every bit as talented.
The nation is proud of them not only because they’re good footballers but rather because they come across as very likeable human beings. Gareth Southgate was the catalyst for this inspiring change and has insisted that all of the players leave their egos at the door when they check into St George’s Park. The results speak for themselves and every player in his 26-man squad is far more grounded than those who made up the Golden Generation. Perhaps one could also say that the personal development in these players in terms of being more connected to the communities they play for is far greater than any other Three Lions side before them.
Any player that runs out for England at EE Wembley in northwest London these days has as much of an understanding of what is required of them on the pitch as well as off it. This significant change in approach is naturally also reaping huge rewards on the field of play when you consider that as of the 6th of July, the Three Lions have been priced at just 7/1 to win the 2022 World Cup by Betway, only narrowly behind favorites Brazil and France. With this in mind, you would have to say that the new identity that Southgate has brought is paying huge dividends. The prestigious Coca-Cola Fifa World rankings would also back that up as England lie in fourth place, a position that they haven’t been lower than since 2019.
Gareth Southgate’s road to redemption has been 25 years in the making.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 3, 2021
Now it’s led him – and @England – to this point, with the chance to write a new chapter of European history.
? https://t.co/zgEQRBpnaW#UKRENG #Euro2020 #bbceuro2020 pic.twitter.com/3xZhkJnUJv
Winning football games is driving lasting and meaningful change for the better in England and the public are responding to this team that they can identify with. The airs and graces aren’t there anymore and the arrogance that England everywhere they went for 16 years is a thing of the past. This is the true golden generation and the legacy they leave on the pitch and in society will be remembered forever.