Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast – home nations moments since 1966

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June 4, 2020
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    Paul Gascoigne, Gerry Armstrong, Archie Gemmill and Hal Robson-Kanu

    Which iconic moment will make your list?

    When it comes to eye-catching international moments there have been more than a few involving the home nations since England won the World Cup in 1966.

    Wayne Rooney’s red card against Portugal, Wales at Euro 2016, Gerry Armstrong’s heroics for Northern Ireland as well as Archie Gemmill’s superb solo effort for Scotland all spring to mind – but which is the most iconic?

    That was the subject discussed by Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright on the new Match of The Day: Top 10 podcast.

    To hear how Shearer and Wright both chose their final selections, make sure you listen to the podcast on BBC Sounds. And you can make your own ranked list at the bottom of the page.

    Scotland, Ally’s Army and Archie Gemmill

    1978 World Cup in Argentina

    Scotland boss Ally MacLeod had boasted that his side could be among the main challengers to win the World Cup in Argentina.

    However, a defeat by Peru and a draw with Iran left Scotland needing to win by three goals against the 1974 finalists, the Netherlands, just to progress from the group.

    And when Archie Gemmill’s stunning goal gave them a 3-1 lead, glory appeared to beckon, only for Johnny Rep to reply three minutes later for the Dutch, sending Scotland out in bittersweet style.

    Archie Gemmill scores for Scotland

    Archie Gemmill’s goal against the Netherlands is referenced in the film Trainspotting

    Shearer: “There were some fantastic players in that team. They knew they had to win by three goals against the Netherlands to qualify. I know they didn’t qualify but after going a goal down they gave it a hell of a go.”

    Wright: “I remember watching it and thinking this is never going to happen. When Archie Gemmill went through and scored you were thinking ‘this could happen’.”

    Northern Ireland and Armstrong shock hosts

    1982 World Cup in Spain

    Having reached the finals for the first time since 1958, the odds seemed stacked against Northern Ireland in a group containing hosts Spain and Yugoslavia.

    Despite Mal Donaghy’s dismissal they held on for a famous win against the hosts courtesy of Gerry Armstrong’s goal and progressed as group winners.

    Gerry Armstrong celebrates scoring against Spain

    The World Cup finals were expanded from 16 to 24 teams in 1982

    Shearer: “There was a concern that some of the smaller nations would struggle after the tournament was expanded but Northern Ireland actually topped that group. What a moment for them.”

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    Wright: “It was one of those games for me that Northern Ireland were destined to win. Mal Donaghy was sent off and the Spain players were getting away with murder.”

    The ‘Hand of God’

    1986 World Cup in Mexico

    Despite a slow start to the tournament, Sir Bobby Robson’s England side had built momentum to reach the quarter-finals when eventual winners Argentina and Diego Maradona rocked up to bamboozle them.

    Maradona’s infamous first goal, where he used his hand to punch the ball past Peter Shilton, was followed by a sensational second that sent England home.

    Diego Maradona scores against England using his hand

    Argentina captain Diego Maradona scored five goals at the 1986 World Cup finals

    Wright: “You knew instantly at home but it took a little while to show it on the television. It was so clever but felt so wrong.”

    Gazza’s tears

    1990 World Cup in Italy

    This was the summer that relaunched football mania in England as Sir Bobby Robson’s side headed into a World Cup semi-final against West Germany.

    Paul Gascoigne was outstanding throughout the tournament and when his bottom lip wobbled and the tears flowed – after a booking that ruled him out of a final England would not reach – he captured the hearts of a nation.

    Paul Gascoigne

    England’s appearance in the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1990 was their first since 1966

    Wright: “When he cried I was welling up. It was the first time on a football pitch that I think you saw raw emotion. It was like watching a child that you could not help.”

    The dentist’s chair

    Euro 96 in England

    A 1-1 with Switzerland in the opening match of Euro 96 had put the pressure on hosts England.

    And that was intensified when an alcohol-related ‘dentist-chair’ stunt put Gascoigne and his team-mates on the front pages of the newspapers.

    Step forward Gascoigne, who celebrated his sublime goal in a 2-0 England win by recreating the scene from a Hong Kong bar on the Wembley pitch.

    Paul Gascoigne

    England reached the semi-finals at Euro 96

    Shearer: “We were going into a tournament at Wembley and the players were sat in a chair throwing tequila and vodka back. Terry Venables turned it around and we had to go out and repay him for sticking up for us. Gazza said he was going to recreate it if he scored. What a goal it was.”

    Wright: “There was outrage with what happened before the tournament. People do not understand how important it is for people to bond. The way England reacted brought that team together even more.”

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    Beckham sees red

    1998 World Cup in France

    David Beckham had been England’s hero in their crucial group win over Colombia.

    And England and Beckham appeared to have the measure of Argentina in their second round match, until a moment of madness two minutes after half-time.

    Having been fouled from behind by Diego Simeone, Beckham flicked out with his boot and was promptly sent off by referee Kim Milton Nielsen. That left England to play most of the second half and extra time with 10 men before they eventual lost on penalties.

    David Beckham

    David Beckham won 115 caps for England between 1996-2009

    Shearer: “It wasn’t a red card, David (Beckham) just flicked out with his heel. I wasn’t far away and I could see what the Argentina players were trying to do.”

    Wright: “He did not do anything near enough to be sent off. The most that should have happened was that the referee should have warned Beckham. For the public to react as they did was ridiculous and so bad.”

    Rooney’s red and Ronaldo’s wink

    2006 World Cup in Germany

    Much was expected of England’s golden generation when they travelled to Germany. However, expectation turned into a familiar tale of woe when Beckham went off injured and Wayne Rooney was sent off for a foul on Ricardo Carvalho.

    The incident happened right in front of Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo, who was urged on by Portugal players – including Rooney’s then Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo – to take action.

    Wayne Rooney is sent off at the the 2006 World Cup

    As Rooney departed, Ronaldo winked towards his bench to acknowledge England’s greatest threat had been removed.

    Shearer: “You could see Wayne Rooney looking around and thinking ‘what is going on here’. Cristiano Ronaldo’s wink wasn’t that bad. He knew that England’s main man was about to depart the pitch after falling into the trap.”

    Wright: “When Wayne Rooney got sent off people were digging him out but I could not blame Cristiano Ronaldo for what happened. What we should learn is that other countries will do whatever it takes to win a tournament.”

    Wales shock Belgium to reach semis

    Euro 2016 in France

    Buoyed by vocal travelling fans and the brilliance of Gareth Bale, possibly Wales’ greatest ever moment arrived in the quarter-final tie against Belgium.

    After Ashley Williams’ header levelled up Radja Nainggolan’s opener, Hal Robson-Kanu’s brilliant turn and finish gave Wales the lead before substitute Sam Vokes headed the third.

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    Wales players celebrate their win over Belgium

    Wales’ victory over Belgium took them into the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time

    Shearer: “For Hal Robson-Kanu to score that goal in the way that he did, and send about three Belgium players for pie and chips as he turned, was unbelievable.”

    England humbled by Iceland

    Euro 2016 in France

    When it comes to embarrassing exits from major tournaments, England’s defeat by Iceland must rank pretty highly.

    Manager Roy Hodgson resigned after losing to a nation then ranked 34th in the world – and with a population of just 330,000. And that was after Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty had given England the lead.

    Iceland's Ragnar Sigurdsson celebrates after scoring against England

    Manager Roy Hodgson resigned after England’s defeat to Iceland

    Shearer: “We knew that they were good at long throws and set-pieces. We were all over the place and the players did not look as though they knew what they were doing. England just collapsed. It was an all-time low performance.”

    Wright: “It was an embarrassment to the country. It is the only time I have seen an England team buckle under the weight of expectation.”

    England finally win a penalty shootout

    2018 World Cup in Russia

    Two years after the debacle against Iceland the feel-good factor was well and truly restored as England marched to the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

    And while they couldn’t go that one step further, one bonus along the way was their first ever World Cup penalty shootout win over Colombia in the last 16.

    Harry Kane celebrates

    England went on to reach the World Cup semi-finals after beating Colombia in a penalty shootout

    Shearer: “There was one thing you could guarantee, going into that tournament – that England would be ready for penalties after what had gone before.”

    Wright: “I can’t remember when I felt such pure joy. I was just sick and tired of watching them lose. I had a real moment of not knowing what I was going to do if we did not win.”

    So you have looked at what the pundits think, but what about you? Rank your top 10 iconic moments below:

    Match of the Day Top 10

    Order your top 10 iconic moments from the home nations since 1966.

    First1Second2Third3Fourth4Fifth5Sixth6Seventh7Eighth8Ninth9Tenth10Confirm selection


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