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England in the European Championship 1992
Squad Records

 

European Championship 1992 Final Tournament
10 - 26 June in Sweden

England Squad Career and Tournament Records

    Before Euro Finals   At Euro Finals
No. Player Age Pos App G Club App Sub On Sub Off Min G  Dis
1 Woods, Christopher C. E. 32 G 31 0 Sheffield Wednesday FC 3 0 0 270 2GA --
2 Curle, Keith 28 D 2 0 Manchester City FC 1 0 1 62 0 1C
3 Pearce, Stuart 30 D 47 2 Nottingham Forest FC 3 0 0 270 0 --
4 Keown, Martin R. 25 D 6 1 Everton FC 3 0 0 270 0 1C
5 Walker, Desmond S. 26 D 44 0 Nottingham Forest FC 3 0 0 270 0 --
6 Wright, Mark 28 D 42 1 Liverpool FC Withdrew from squad injured
7 Platt, David A. 26 M 29 10 AS Bari, Italy 3 0 0 270 1 --
8 Steven, Trevor M. 28 M 34 4 Olympique de Marseille, France 2 0 0 180 0 --
9 Clough, Nigel H. 26 M 7 0 Nottingham Forest FC 0 0 0 0 0 --
10 Lineker, Gary W. 31 F 77 48 Tottenham Hotspur FC 3 0 1 242 0 --
    Before Euro Finals   At Euro Finals
No. Player Age Pos App G Club App Sub On Sub Off Min G  Dis
11 Sinton, Andrew 26 M 4 0 Queen's Park Rangers FC 2 0 1 166 0 --
12 Palmer, Carlton L. 26 M 4 0 Sheffield Wednesday FC 3 0 0 270 0 --
13 Martyn, A. Nigel 25 G 2 0 Crystal Palace FC 0 0 0 0 0 --
14 Dorigo, Anthony R. 26 D 10 0 Leeds United AFC 0 0 0 0 0 --
15 Webb, Neil J. 28 M 24 4 Manchester United FC 2 1 0 109 0 1C
16 Merson, Paul C. 24 F 5 1 Arsenal FC 2 1 1 85 0 --
17 Smith, Alan M. 29 F 11 2 Arsenal FC 2 1 0 118 0 --
18 Daley, Anthony M. 24 F 5 0 Aston Villa FC 2 1 0 118 0 2C
19 Batty, David 23 M 8 0 Leeds United AFC 2 0 0 180 0 1C
20 Shearer, Alan 21 F 2 1 Southampton FC 1 0 0 90 0 --
-- Barnes, John C. B. 28 F 67 10 Liverpool FC Withdrew from squad injured
-- Dixon, Lee M. 28 D 12 1 Arsenal FC Withdrew from squad injured
-- Stevens, M. Gary 29 D 46 0 Glasgow Rangers FC, Scotland Withdrew from squad injured

When Lee Dixon withdrew from the squad, he was replaced by M. Gary Stevens.  After Stevens and John Barnes withdrew, they were replaced by Keith Curle and Andy Sinton with UEFA's permission.  When Mark Wright withdrew, UEFA denied an application to replace him with Tony A. Adams of Arsenal FC.

Caps and goals totals include the June 3 warm-up match England played against Finland during the interval between announcement of the squad on May 18 and England's first match at the tournament on June 11.   Similarly, the age given for David Platt reflects his 26th birthday on June 10, the day before England's opening match.  No other England players had birthdays during England's participation in the tournament.

Notes

Injuries made a shambles of Graham Taylor’s squad selection and tactical planning for his first major tournament as England manager.

The misfortune began more than a year before when Tottenham Hotspurs’ Paul Gascoigne incurred cruciate ligament damage to his right knee as he made a rash challenge on Gary Charles in the F.A. Cup Final against Nottingham Forest.  The injury required surgery and kept Gascoigne out of first-team football for 16 months, including the European Championship in Sweden.  Gascoigne, 25 on May 27, did not add to his 20 caps until October after he had moved to SS Lazio in Italy. 

Two days before England met Brazil at Wembley Stadium on May 17, 1992 in a final home warm-up, Liverpool’s Rob Jones, Taylor’s expected first choice at right back, pulled out of contention for the squad with shin splints.  The 20-year-old had made only one international appearance, against France in a February friendly, but had given a cultured performance far beyond his years.

Taylor announced his 20-man squad for Sweden on May 18, the day after England’s 1-1 draw with Brazil.  The press regarded midfielder David Batty and right back Lee Dixon as surprise inclusions, although Dixon, who had 12 caps, was needed to replace Jones.

The most notable omission was Chris Waddle, the 31-year-old midfield genius whose continued absence from England team selections bewildered French as well as English fans who had observed his consistently sparkling play for Olympique Marseille.  During Taylor's two seasons in charge, Waddle had made only three appearances, two of them as a substitute, and he had earned the last of his 62 caps the previous October in the qualification match against Turkey at Wembley Stadium.  Asked about Waddle at a later press conference in Sweden, Taylor replied, "I am not sure he wants to play for England anymore," presumably not as much a statement about Waddle’s actual state of mind as a thinly-veiled reference to Waddle’s largely anonymous second-half performance against Turkey.  Yet the entire England team had performed badly in the second half against Turkey, Waddle had made some brilliant runs in the first half, and it was undeniable that in Gascoigne’s absence, he remained the only English midfielder possessing superb vision and the technical skills to convert vision into creation.  Never again was he to display those rare talents for England.

Another 31-year-old, Peter Beardsley, so often the provider and creative foil for Gary Lineker, was also missing.  Taylor had given him four appearances during his first season in charge, two of them as a substitute, but none in his second season now approaching its end.  Beardsley would not add to his 49 caps until Terry Venables' first match in charge in 1994.

Noteworthy, too, was the omission of Ian Wright, 28, the Arsenal striker who led all scorers in the old First Division's last season with 29 goals.  Over the year leading up to the squad selection, Taylor had given him five appearances, two of them as a substitute, but he had failed to score.  Only three of the squad's 20 slots went to striking forwards.  Gary Lineker was an automatic choice, and Taylor gave the other slots to Alan Smith, Wright's teammate, who had scored only twice in 11 sporadic appearances spread over four seasons, and Alan Shearer, the young Southampton star who had scored once in two appearances.

Also missing was Tony Adams, 25, the Arsenal central defender.  As a 21-year-old at the 1988 European Championship in West Germany, Adams had been turned by the superb Dutch forward Marco van Basten, who scored a hat-trick against England.  He soon lost his place to Des Walker and had not been selected for the 1990 World Cup squad.  After Adams had gone two years without a cap, Taylor played him in both qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland.  In the return match at Wembley in March, 1991, which came only a month after Adams had finished serving a drink driving term, he probably was not yet fully fit, and Niall Quinn eluded him to give Ireland the 1-1 draw.  Although Taylor did not play Adams at all in the 1991-92 season, he put him on standby for Sweden anyway, but it would be October before Adams would add to his 19 caps. 

A week after the squad announcement, on May 25, Dixon joined his fellow right back Jones on the disabled list after injuring his knee in a freak accident at home, and Taylor summoned M. Gary Stevens, 29, Rangers, as a replacement.  Stevens was a veteran of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup and 1988 European Championship tournaments.

England then travelled to Helsinki, where double misfortune struck on June 3 in a 2-1 final warm-up match victory over Finland.  Stevens suffered a stress fracture and Liverpool wing forward John Barnes, 28, a ruptured Achilles tendon.  A third right back had been lost to England, as well as the third and last England player of the day blessed with world class creative and technical skills.  Taylor had to use midfielder Carlton Palmer at right back after the injury interrupted Stevens' 46th and final international appearance.  The brilliant Barnes, making his 67th appearance and also a veteran of the last three major tournaments, was irreplaceable.  

Because the deadline for submission of squad lists to UEFA had passed, Taylor had to apply for permission to replace Stevens and Barnes with central defender Keith Curle and wide midfielder Andy Sinton.  By this time, Dixon had almost recovered, but Taylor decided not to gamble on his fitness.  That he did not summon another right back, even one of modest talents, rather than Curle remains inexplicable.  UEFA consented to the replacements on June 5. 

Unknown to Taylor and the rest of the England staff, central defender Mark Wright had aggravated an old Achilles tendon injury in the Finland friendly.  Wright’s club, Liverpool, kept the problem under wraps for two days after Wright’s return from Finland and did not notify England management until late afternoon of the day before the England squad were to leave for Sweden.  Wright did not show up at the Luton airport as the squad flew out, and Taylor waited anxiously for word on his fitness.  When it became clear he would not play, Taylor applied to UEFA for permission to replace him with Adams.  Wright flew to Sweden for an assessment by a UEFA medical examiner just hours before England’s tournament opener against Denmark.  UEFA denied the request for Adams on June 12, the day after the Denmark match.

And so it was that England competed in Sweden shy a squad member and four key players--Gascoigne, Jones, Barnes and Mark Wright--as well as any discernible right back.

England Squad Match Records
No. Player Denmark France Sweden
1 Woods, Christopher C. E. St 90, 0GA St 90, 0GA St 90, 0GA
2 Curle, Keith St off 62, 1C Did not play Did not play
3 Pearce, Stuart St 90 St 90 St 90
4 Keown, Martin R. St 90, 1C St 90 St 90
5 Walker, Desmond S. St 90 St 90 St 90
6 Wright, Mark Did not play, injured Did not play, injured Did not play, injured
7 Platt, David A. St 90 St 90 St 90, 1G
8 Steven, Trevor M. St 90 St 90 Did not play
9 Clough, Nigel H. Did not play Did not play Did not play
10 Lineker, Gary W. St 90 St 90 St off 62
No. Player Denmark France Sweden
11 Sinton, Andrew Did not play St 90 St off 76
12 Palmer, Carlton L. St 90 St 90 St 90
13 Martyn, A. Nigel Did not play Did not play Did not play
14 Dorigo, Anthony R. Did not play Did not play Did not play
15 Webb, Neil J. Sub on 71 Did not play St 90, 1C
16 Merson, Paul C. St off 71 Did not play, injured Sub on 76
17 Smith, Alan M. St 90 Did not play Sub on 62
18 Daley, Anthony M. Sub on 62, 1C Did not play St 90, 1C
19 Batty, David Did not play St 90, 1C St 90
20 Shearer, Alan Did not play St 90 Did not play

Notes  

Most of the press harangued Taylor throughout the tournament, accusing him of confusion and indecision.  The criticism was somewhat unfair and its tone and intensity entirely unfair.  The spate of injury withdrawals, coupled with the uncertainties surrounding them, played havoc with Taylor’s plans and forced most of the changes he made in personnel, positional assignments and formation as he grappled with difficulties that would have challenged and perhaps proven insurmountable to managers much more experienced in international tournament play.  The other changes he made were prompted by England's failure to score, first against Denmark and then against France.

Taylor delayed announcing his lineup for the opener against Denmark until the last moment possible, an hour before the match, reticence which was then unusual in an England manager and which a good part of the press, denied their customary pre-match story, greeted with hostile scepticism.  The fact was that Taylor was uncertain who would be available to him and, accordingly, waited to name his team. 

Injuries explain why, after extolling the virtues of a sweeper system at length at a press conference, Taylor used a flat back four against Denmark, an apparent contradiction which earned him scorn in the press.  Without Wright, who had played well when Bobby Robson suddenly decided to use him as a sweeper at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Taylor had no player he felt comfortable deploying in that role.

Injuries also explain why Taylor used central defender Keith Curle at right back, where he was terribly out of place in what must have been a confidence-shattering experience.  Having lost three right backs, Taylor had no right backs left in the squad.  He recognized the mistake; he took Curle off in favour of winger Tony Daley in the 62nd minute and had Trevor Steven, the pick of England’s midfield in this match, move to right back. 

Against France, Taylor dispensed with the need for a right back, switching to three central defenders and a sweeper instead of a flat back four to deal with one of Europe’s most potent attacking forces.  He had used the sweeper system successfully when England beat France 2-0 in a friendly match at Wembley in February.  He shifted midfielder Carlton Palmer to sweeper, brought in David Batty to bolster central midfield and played Andy Sinton, more comfortable on the left, as a right wingback, while resting Paul Merson, who had sustained an ankle injury against Denmark.  Shearer, who had performed well and scored on his debut against France in February, replaced Smith at the front.

Finally, against Sweden, Taylor reverted to the more familiar flat back four, moving midfielder David Batty to right back and returning Palmer to midfield.  He sacrificed Steven, who had been perhaps England's most consistent player, in favour of attacking width from Daley on the right and Sinton on the left.  He played Platt well forward in support of Lineker instead of a second centre forward--a change that produced England's only goal in the tournament--and brought in Neil Webb in an effort to improve distribution in the midfield.

Despite these match-to-match changes in formation, personnel and positional assignments, six squad members played every minute of England's three matches--Chris Woods in goal, Stuart Pearce, Martin Keown and Des Walker in defence, David Platt in midfield and Palmer in midfield/defence--and a sixth, Gary Lineker, started all three matches.  Where Taylor had no injury problems, he had no problem making decisions and sticking to them.  Coping with selection, positional and formation difficulties arising from injuries is, of course, a basic part of the manager's job, yet it remains unfortunate that the luckless Taylor should have had to confront so many of them at his first and only final tournament.

Other than the injured Wright and backup keeper Nigel Martyn, two squad members did not play during the tournament: Nigel Clough, who usually played as a withdrawn centre forward for his club side and was listed as a midfielder on this squad, and left back Tony Dorigo, who had also had to be patient at the 1990 World Cup, where he did not get a game until the last, third-place match against Italy.

The tournament marked the final international appearances for six players:  Lineker (80 caps/48 goals), Steven (36/4), Webb (26/4), Smith (13/2), the unfortunate Curle (3/0) and Daley (7/0), who, after Platt had opened the scoring, muffed two wonderful opportunities to send England two up against Sweden. 

European Championship 1992 Leading Goalscorers
Rank

Players

Apps. Mins. G PK
1= Henrik Larsen, Denmark 4 297 3 0
1= Dennis Bergkamp, Netherlands 4 341 3 0
1= Tomas Brolin, Sweden 4 360 3 1
1= Karl-Heinz Riedle, Germany 5 413 3 0
5= Jean-Pierre Papin, France 3 270 2 0
5= Jan Eriksson, Sweden 4 360 2 0
5= Frank Rijkaard, Netherlands 4 360 2 0
5= Thomas Hässler, Germany 5 450 2 0

Notes

England scored only one goal in three matches.  The tournament was a relatively low-scoring affair at the group level.  Still, it was a sad performance from England's forwards.

Much had been expected of Gary Lineker, who had announced he would retire from international football at tournament's end and take a six-month sabbatical before joining a new club in a new league, Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan.  He had led all scorers with six goals at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and added another four at the 1990 World Cup in Italy to join the top all-time World Cup scorers.  And he had managed to score in each of England's three group losses at the 1988 European Championship in West Germany although he had appeared a little slow off the mark and had been, it was later found, suffering from the debilitating hepatitis B virus.  Plainly he thrived in big matches and, on his arrival in Sweden with 48 international goals, he was considered a good bet to break Bobby Charlton's England record of 49 while there.  

Instead, Lineker went scoreless, and manager Graham Taylor terminated this deadliest of striker's superb England career with rude and humiliating abruptness.  With the score still 1-1 and as players, spectators and a worldwide television audience watched in disbelief, Taylor took Lineker off for substitute Alan Smith while there was still almost half an hour to go against Sweden in his 80th international match and ended any chance he had to equal Charlton's record.  England’s chances in this match--and the tournament--went with him.  The entire team appeared to wilt in the wake of this morale-sapping substitution, gave up a second goal as Sweden pressed and went out of the tournament with barely a whimper.

The justification Taylor offered the press sounded truly lame:  his “job was to try and make sure England had a chance of reaching the semi-finals,” and he thought the substitution “was necessary to give us a chance of qualifying” because “[i]t was not Gary's type of game and I wanted someone who could hold the ball for us up front.”  Taylor might have added that Lineker had gone six straight matches without scoring.  Yet Lineker had a proven record in scoring late goals in important matches.  He had scored the late equalizer against Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-final, for example, and, indeed, had scored the late equalizer in the last qualifier against Poland that got England to Sweden in the first place.  Smith, on the other hand, had scored only twice in 11 appearances. 

It was a terrible blunder, the sort football fans remember for a lifetime.  Thus the chapter devoted to Taylor's tenure in the latest official F.A. history of the England team, under the insincere if not hypocritical title "Best We Forget," proceeds not only to demonstrate that Taylor's errors, and particularly the Lineker substitution, will never be forgotten by those of us who witnessed them, but to ensure that they won't be even beyond our lifetime.  To this day, the Lineker substitution is mentioned in virtually every story that mentions Taylor's England career, no matter what the news peg is.

Although Lineker's substitution was plainly a relatively inexperienced national team manager's momentary insanity borne of desperation in the most trying circumstances, the press, already sceptical at best and hostile at worst, was unforgiving and berated the hapless Taylor for the rest of his tenure.  In press eyes, he now could do nothing right.  Lineker's ending was the beginning of the end for Taylor.      

As one star faded, another emerged, although it was not immediately apparent.  Youngster Alan Shearer failed to score on his European Championship debut.  Eight years on, he would occupy second place on the all-time European Championship goalscoring chart.  

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PY/CG