England fans may have lost their optimism after the previous few tournaments but it was a totally different story back in 2003.
The Three Lions, under the management of Sven-Goran Eriksson, reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup and felt they were unfortunate not to advance past Brazil, who secured their place in the semis thanks to Ronaldinho’s long-range free-kick.
England had some of the world’s best players during this period of time - namely Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen - while the hugely exciting Wayne Rooney was bursting onto the scene with Everton.
Dan Warren, a journalist working for BBC Sport, went all out and proclaimed that England would win the 2008 European Championships with a team which now looks, well, laughably wide of the mark.
We all get predictions wrong, so we won’t give Dan too much stick - no doubt he’s been reminded of this article on the BBC website on plenty of occasions over the years - but it’s well worth seeing if you haven’t before.
Dan predicted that Chris Kirkland, 21 at the time, would be the world’s best goalkeeper by 2008. Yikes.
Dan went for a back-three comprised of Rio Ferdinand, Anton Ferdinand, who never made a senior appearance for England, and Martin Taylor, who also never played for England.
He then predicted that Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips would be the team’s wing-backs playing on the left and right flanks, respectively.
Dan went for Steven Gerrard as the team’s all-action midfield hero, with Joe Cole and David Dunn(!) in more advanced positions.
Dan predicted that England would be fired to Euro 2008 glory by Owen and Rooney which, in fairness, wasn’t his worst shout.
His worst prediction, aside from Kirkland, was guessing that Alan Shearer - yes, Alan Shearer - would mastermind England’s route to glory in Austria and Switzerland.
Shearer’s one and only managerial spell so far was with his beloved Newcastle United. He secured one win from eight matches and the Magpies were relegated to the Championship.
Paul Robinson was the back-up goalkeeper while Wayne Bridge and John Terry were also only deemed good enough by Dan for a place on the subs’ bench.
Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe also earned a place on Shearer’s bench, along with Neil Mellor and Michael Tonge. *Shudders*.
Curiously, there was no place for Frank Lampard…
What actually happened?
England didn’t even manage to reach Euro 2008.
The Three Lions, managed by Steve McClaren, needed to avoid defeat in their final qualifier against Croatia on a rain-soaked night at Wembley to secure their place at the tournament.
But England suffered humiliation in front of 88,000 expectant fans, losing 3-2 on one of the most infamous nights in the national team’s history.
Will England ever win another major tournament? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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