The England XI tipped to win Euro 2008 by the BBC back in 2003 looks eye-opening now

  • Rob Swan
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Euro 2020 feels like England’s best opportunity to win a major tournament for quite some time.

Gareth Southgate’s side reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and now have even more talented players in their ranks, including Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho.

The bookmakers rate the Three Lions, who play all three of their group matches at Wembley, as second-favourites to win the tournament behind France.

Southgate’s men get their campaign underway against Croatia this Sunday, before facing Scotland on June 18. Their final Group D match is against the Czech Republic on June 22.

As ever, millions of England fans are optimistic that this will *finally* be the tournament that football comes home.

Crushing disappointment is an all-too-familiar feeling for England supporters of all ages, but at least they’re at the tournament and in with a chance of doing something special over the next few weeks.

This wasn’t the case 13 years ago at Euro 2008, which England failed to qualify for after a dismal campaign under Steve McClaren.

England fans have experienced some serious lows down the years and the 3-2 defeat to Croatia in qualifying at Wembley in November 2007 is right up there among the worst.

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Four years earlier, BBC Sport published an article titled ‘Why England will win Euro 2008’ - which is still live on the website today.

Citing recent goals from a 19-year-old Michael Tonge and a 20-year-old Neil Mellor as further reason to be excited about England’s “astounding production line of promise”, the BBC’s Dan Warren predicted that “future England manager Alan Shearer” would be the man to lead the Three Lions to glory in Austria and Switzerland.

The England XI tipped to win Euro 2008

The England XI tipped to win Euro 2008 looks pretty eye-opening now…

Goalkeeper: Chris Kirkland

Tipped to become the “world’s finest goalkeeper by 2008”, Kirkland went on to make just one appearance for England’s senior team.

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Centre-back: Rio Ferdinand

It was already pretty clear by January 2003 that Rio Ferdinand was a top-level defender.

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Centre-back: Anton Ferdinand

Rio’s younger brother, Anton, enjoyed a decent career but didn’t manage to earn a full England cap.

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Centre-back: Martin Taylor

Oh dear. The one-time England Under-21 international was far from an elite defender.

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Left wing-back: Ashley Cole

Of course.

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Right wing-back: Shaun Wright-Phillips

A solid shout at the time, Wright-Phillips went on to score six goals in 36 appearances for England.

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Holding midfield: Steven Gerrard

There wasn’t much doubt at this point that Steven Gerrard would be an England regular for years to come.

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Attacking midfield: Joe Cole

Joe Cole went on to play for England 56 times, scoring 10 goals in the process.

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Attacking midfield: David Dunn

Perhaps best known for falling over his own feet while attempting a rabona, Dunn was a pretty good player, in fairness, but only managed to play for England on one occasion.

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Forward: Michael Owen

Winner of the 2001 Ballon d’Or, Owen’s best days were sadly behind him by 2008.

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Forward: Wayne Rooney

Now England’s all-time leading goalscorer, it was clear for all to see in January 2003 that Rooney was an incredibly special talent.

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Bench: Paul Robinson, Wayne Bridge, John Terry, Michael Carrick, Neil Mellor, Jermain Defoe, Michael Tonge.

*Shudders*.

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Did Frank Lampard not exist in 2003 or something? The Chelsea legend failed to even make the bench.

Although Warren’s prediction was spectacularly wide of the mark, we have to say full credit to the guy for sticking his neck on the line - and to the BBC for keeping the article live on their website!

We all love football thanks to its unpredictable nature and it’s safe to say that we’ve all made some embarrassingly bad shouts over the years.

Euro 2020 predictions (The Football Terrace)

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