Tribal Football

Teddy Sheringham exclusive: I blame Southgate! Man Utd hero on getting so close in Euro 96

Teddy Sheringham exclusive: I blame Southgate! Man Utd hero on getting so close in Euro 96
Teddy Sheringham exclusive: I blame Southgate! Man Utd hero on getting so close in Euro 96
Teddy Sheringham exclusive: I blame Southgate! Man Utd hero on getting so close in Euro 96Action Plus
“Southgate's f****** fault, wasn't it?” says Teddy Sheringham with a big laugh, when Tribalfootball put it to him, whether England could have won the Euro 1996. It still rankles with him that Germany went on to win the whole bloody thing after Gareth Southgate missed the final penalty in that (in)famous semifinal.

“The whole tournament was great fun; I loved every minute about Euro 96. But the fact that we didn't win it is a tinge of “what if”?

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Manchester United Treble winner Sheringham was brought into the squad by Terry Venables and had his most enjoyable time during his career with England under the former Barcelona and Tottenham manager.

“Euro 96 under Venables was probably the best time for me as a footballer. I was in my prime age-wise as well. So, it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I was a regular in the team, playing every game in the Euros,” Sheringham remembers while also handing a lot of praise on Venables.

The now deceased  Venables took over, when England was in the doldrums after missing the World Cup in 1994 and turned the mood surrounding the national side completely around.

“He had a great way of making everybody feel good individually. And then he had the tactical awareness to take on any nation in the Euros and not feel like an underdog. We went out there with confidence to take the game to the opposition. That's the way we played and that's how footballers want to play the game, taking the game to the opposition.

“It was just the way he wanted us to play football. Passing the ball and showing how good we are as a nation. We had some unbelievably talented footballers around that time and it wasn't really being shown the way we were playing football before.

“As soon as he took over, we took the game to the opposition. He had a big admiration for the Dutch and the way they played at the time and we used to watch a lot of videos of how they played football, how they conducted themselves on the pitch and the way they took the game to the opposition.

“It was a bit like the way Pep Guardiola plays at the moment, controlling the ball. We used to watch the Dutch a lot. And Venables said; 'this is what we've got to aspire to be'. So, when we actually come up against the Dutch in Euro 96 and played them off the park the way we did, I think that was a real big moment for him that he loved. We'd taken them on at their own game and come out on top. Because we had some fantastic players on top of a very good system.”

England hammered The Netherlands 4-1 which Sheringham calls the best international he took part in during his career.

“Without doubt. There are some games that you look back on and think, “I had a good game there”. Then you watch it on video and think, “oh, perhaps I didn't play that well”. But when they showed that game during covid, I sat down and watched it and it’s probably one of the only games that I look back at and go, “I did have a good game.”

 Venables already showed his class with the legendary Dentist-Chair incident, where a few players perhaps blew off a little more steam that expected, to put it politely.

“Sometimes the pictures look worse than what they actually are. When you've all got ripped shirts and drink being splattered down, yeah, it's not a great look. I do understand that and we were there to be shot at when you have photographs like that. 

"But Terry Venables took all the blame for that. When he saw the photos, he had a real go at us. But when he went out to speak to the press, he said, 'that's my problem. I let them have a drink so blame me if there's a problem'. He took the pressure off us which was absolutely fantastic of him.”

All in all, it was a good time to be alive and English in 1996.

“Amazing time. I think everyone was a bit sceptical about whether we would do any good. We started the tournament against Switzerland and only drew the game when we didn't play so well. It was a very hot day and a very sticky pitch. So, we couldn't play our one-touch passing.

"But the tournament livened up. The further we went on, the more the crowd got with us and the atmosphere and the adulation and the experience of it and the expectancy levels grew. It was bubbling nicely until we lost to the Germans. It's a shame we didn't get the icing on the cake and win the tournament for it all to be worthwhile."

 

- Teddy Sheringham was talking to Tribalfootball on behalf of TG Casino