The footballing gods have not looked kindly upon England since it won the 1966 World Cup against West Germany. A rematch of that final, four years later in Mexico, saw the Germans come back from a 2-0 deficit in the quarter-finals to knock out the English team. The result would be the same twenty years later in the 1990 World Cup semi-final, though it took penalties to separate them.
Perhaps Euro 1996 – held in England – would be the moment England’s luck turned. A pulsating semifinal game against Germany got going almost instantly: a volley from England’s Paul Ince was pushed over by Andreas Köpke. But the German goalkeeper would be picking the ball out of his net from the resulting corner, as Alan Shearer headed in his fifth goal of the tournament.
The game had barely settled into a groove before Stefan Kuntz equalized. But England would not retreat. Shearer and Teddy Sheringham (the so-called SAS) almost scored. As the prospect of penalties loomed in extra-time, England understandably went for the golden goal, quite possibly not fancying their chances in a shoot-out. England had two golden chances (indeed, they’re still shown on British TV to this day). But neither Darren Anderton, who struck a post, nor Paul Gascoigne, who came an agonizing foot away from converting Shearer’s cross, could seal the deal. You almost knew what was coming: Germany didn’t miss a penalty.