England icon shares how Man City charges will affect Euro 2024 squad – EXCLUSIVE

Kyle Walker and Jack Grealish are two Manchester City players set to be involved in Euro 2024. (Image: Getty)

For Darren Anderton, a Euro’s tournament evokes a combination of special and painful memories. The former Tottenham man was a mainstay under Terry Venables when England embarked on that surreal run to the semi-finals on home soil some 28 years ago, an adventure that ended in cruel but now familiar fashion with a penalty shootout defeat to Germany.

But the impact that the tournament had on a nation, let alone a generation of fans, continues to be lauded on English soil.

It was after all, the first time that ‘football’s coming home’ reverberated around stadiums, with Baddiel and Skinner’s unofficial fan anthem still going strong almost three decades later.

The build-up however, was anything but sunshine and roses. In fact, the Three Lions headed into then tournament plagued by off-field headlines following the infamous ‘dentist chair’ antics on a flight back from Hong Kong. Such behaviour is unlikely to be on the front pages for as long as Gareth Southgate’s tenure lasts, but this time around it’s Manchester City’s legal wrangling against the Premier League dominating off-field headlines.

Anderton however, doesn’t envisage the saga causing any issues within the squad. And while it’s arguable a court case over sponsorship deals draws little comparison with those infamous booze-fuelled antics, he sees a resemblance in the togetherness of the current crop and the group he was part off that hazy summer.

“I think they (the squad) can shut it out,” he exclusively told Express Sport, speaking on behalf of Freebets.com. “I think Gareth has created such a good environment within the squad, a real togetherness and a club feel to it with no cliques or grudges amongst teams like in the past, it’s like our squad in Euro 96.

Darren Anderton was a key player for England at Euro 96. (Image: Getty)

“We had the media intrusion about out pre-trip to Hong Kong and things like that. We kept it in house and dealt with it as a squad, that’s how Terry (Venables) did it and we created a real club environment. That’s what Gareth has done over the years and will continue to do so with this. I don’t think it will be something that will affect the players in any way.”

Indeed, Anderton believes the headlines surrounding Man City come June and July may be more geared to one of their players, Phil Foden. Believing ‘only France can match us’ in the tournament, the 52-year-old implied how Foden is utilised by his former international team-mate could be pivotal.

“The question is can Gareth get the best out of Foden? He’s the main man. I think the likes of Bellingham and Saka have performed for England at a higher level that Foden has in recent times. But I think that Foden has the ability to be better than them all.

Don’t miss…
How every club voted as Premier League make decision to keep VAR next season [LATEST]
James Maddison questions Gareth Southgate as England star reacts to Euro snub [LATEST]
Roy Keane court case concludes as Arsenal fan found guilty of headbutt [LATEST]

“I’d love to see that happen. The form he’s had this year, outstanding, and I’d love to see him be given the free role in Germany and be told to ‘just go and play’. At Man City, they dominate games so much, he’s able to start out wide then come into those areas with a confidence the team are going to keep the ball and get it to him.

“England it won’t be quite the same although we are now a team that dominates possession in 90 per cent off the games we play. I would love to see Foden play behind Harry Kane.”

What Anderton and England fans don’t want of course, is more gallant failure. Ultimately, that’s what he experienced under Venables that famous summer, despite admitting: “The environment, the performances, and being part of something special that people still talk about makes me smile and feel very proud. But then also also sad about what could have been.”

What could have been of course, includes the winger himself excruciatingly hitting the post against Germany in extra time, at a time when the ‘golden goal’ would have meant instant victory had he placed his effort a few inches to the left. And yes, the moment still lives with him.

“I was too far ahead (when the cross came in) so the ball was slightly behind me. That’s sport, that’s football, sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. We were not ready for that summer to finish. We thought we’d be there to the end and were going to win it and be heroes.”

Some 28 years on, Anderton clearly believes Southgate has enough talent at his disposal for this England side to claim the hero status his own generation came so close to becoming. And it seems that no amount of media frenzy over legal issues is going to alter his view.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1908135/England-Man-City-charges-Euro-2024