Since European Championship in 1996 that held in England, England national football team had failed to progress to semi-final in every major tournaments and in some tournament they didn’t even qualify to the major tournament like what had happen in the Euro 2008 and 1994 World Cup where they had failed to qualify for that tournaments. A team that had talented players in their generation that even had been dubbed as the golden generation had failed to live up to the hype.
England was a major powerhouse in the football and a very proud nation once upon a time. England was the founder football and creator of the oldest football tournament the FA Cup. In the 40’s and 50’s England was so feared that even though a team had won the World Cup, if they unable to beat England then they are not a great team as per the Englishmen believe. But all that had changed when The Magical Magyar Hungary team of Ferenc Puskas, Sandor Konsics, and Nandor Higegkuti trashed and outplayed England in Wembley with a score line of 6-3 that dent a major blow for them. This is a first time that England had been beaten in Wembley by a foreign team and in the return game in Budapest, Hungary England was annihilated 7-1. This is England worst defeat until now. They style of Hungary play on that day especially Ferenc Puskas had given a greatest learning for England that until then believed that their style of play with centre forward and attacking winger is the best way to play football. This also the game that England myth had been broken.
Then in 1966 World Cup that held in England they finally had become the World Champion with the legendary player like Sir Bobby Moore, Sir Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks, Geoff Hurst, and Jack Charlton they had beaten West Germany 4-2. Until now Geoff Hurst is the only player that had scored hat trick in the World Cup final. But England win is not a one off performance as they had proved in the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico where as the defending champion and with most the player is at the peak England gave a fantastic performance in that final. England is the only team that had pushed the Brazil team in 1970 that had been given the title as The Best International Football Team ever to their limit in the whole tournament and also they are the only team that had lost to Brazil team at that time with just one goal. The Bobby Moore brilliant tackle on Jairzinho and Gordon Banks superb reflex save from Pele is the classic moments that live forever. If not for the late substitution by Alf Ramsey to replace Sir Bobby Charltion and Bobby Moore unable to play in the quarter final due to food poisoning maybe England had been to the final again and given the Brazil team a better match that the Italian or maybe wining the World Cup again. England had lost in quarter final to the West Germany side 3-2 even after leading 2-0 in the game.
After the glory of 1966 and the failure of the England best team in 1970, disaster struck to England had they had failed to qualify for the 2 successive World Cup in 1974 and 1978. Since then however England had reached all the World Cup final except for the 1994 World Cup in USA. The only time that had they had come nearest to the achieve the feat in 1966 is in the 1990 World Cup where they had reached the semi-final and were beaten again by West German side via a penalty shootout. Their record in the European Championship was worst as they had only reached the semi-final twice in 1968 and 1996 and they have never played in the final or won the European Cup.
The English player since the 1966 generation like Bryan Robson, Kevin Keegan, Gary Lineker, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascoigne, Peter Shilton, David Seaman and many more had not played in any of the final in the European Cup or World Cup. Great players that had never won any trophies with the national team. And now even in the Euro 2016 they had been given the ultimate embarrassment as they had been knocked out by a tiny Iceland team that are playing in their first major tournament in the second round. This is the first time that England had been knocked by minnow in the major tournaments as they always been knocked by the major powerhouse in the football nation such as Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Portugal.
That led to a major question on why the English team had failed to live to their hype in the major tournaments. First of all, the English is unable to live up to pressure of playing with the national team. Player like Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard had played magnificently for their club but collapsed badly when they are playing for the national team. Being an English national team or England manager is job where every single thing that they do or every single decision that the manager had taken will be nullified by the English press. When comes to the England national team the press in England will nullified and crucified the players for every single thing that they did wrongly as an example David Beckham where he had been made a scapegoat for England failure in the World Cup 1998 and in 2014 Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Fabio Capello the England manager was villainized for their action and mistake in the that year World Cup. The press will also hype the team that they will win the World Cup even though the team is not the championship material. So the England players is basically playing with a fear instead of pure confidence like their display in the club but unfortunately due to their ability and England proud history in football the player need to live with that.
In some situation is not all the players fault as the referee decision that is against team will be the deciding factor. An example in 2014 World Cup against German in second round where the referee disallowed the Frank Lampard shot that had crossed the line and can be considered as the equalizing goal as the England were trailing 2-1 at that time. If the goal had been allowed thing will be different as England does not need to chase the game in the second half as the scoreline had been 2-2 but since the goal had not given England to chase the game in the second half and was hit by fast paced counter attack by Germans and lost with flattering score line of 4-1 the England biggest defeat in the World Cup final.
England also had dismal record in the penalty shootout in Euro and in the World Cup. Since 1990 England had competed in 3 shootouts in the World Cup and 3 shootouts in European Championship and only won 1 that is the Euro 1996 against Spain and lost the remaining of them. England best performance in penalty shootout is the Euro 1996 semi-final after winning the penalty shootout for the first time against the Spanish team in the quarter final, they had pushed the penalty shootout king German all the way until the sudden death. Gareth Southgate had missed the crucial penalty in sudden death where until then all England players had scored their penalties. Until now this is the only time that England had scored all their 5 penalties in shootout in any major tournaments. England is the only team that lost all the penalty shootout in the World Cup and never won any of them.
England domestic club competition the English Premier League is the only league among the top four nation that does not have winter break. The English player will be in fatigue as they will play a maximum of 60 games per season if the team is completing in FA Cup and UEFA Champion League hence when they are playing in major tournament that usually will held in Jun and July the player unable to play their style due to fatigue and some key player may not be fully fit. This is another concern that had been raised by England national team manager but until now the English FA did not give in to the manager request. Maybe thing can be different if the Premier League had the winter break like the German, Spanish and the Italian league.
For all the failure in the major tournament English player will always give the best and never give up style of the English football in the major tournament. The 1998 World Cup where David Beckham had been sent off England had hold on the Argentina and even had a goal disallowed only to lost on the penalty shootout. Even in the 2006 World Cup after Wayne Rooney had been sent off England had defended well until the end of the extra time only to lost via shootout again. In the Euro 2004 after Rui Costa had scored the second goal in first minute of the extra time England had struck back and hold Portugal until the end of extra time again to lost on the penalty shootout.
Maybe in the future if they had a referee decision favouring them, winning the dreaded penalty shootout and the player had the necessary break via the winter break the current generation may emulate the success of the 1966 players but until then the what if question will always be lingering in the mind of the players, managers and England football fans.