Team Profile: It’s last chance saloon for the last members of the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ – the likes of Steven Gerard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. Euro 2012 will see England’s perennial underachievers pitted against hosts Ukraine, Sweden and France – perhaps one of the easier groups – but whether or not new manager Roy Hodgson can succeed where previous managers have failed remains to be seen. The hope is that England will finally come good and live up to the expectations of the English media and fans. Having failed to even qualify for the last Euros and with only a couple of semi-final appearances as their previous best, quite how England top the UEFA rankings is a mystery, but anything could happen if luck stays on their side and they manage to stave off injury – and avoid a penalty shootout against Germany.
Coach: Roy Hodgson
Only appointed on May 1 after much speculation over who would replace Fabio Capello, Hodgson may not have been the nation’s choice, but can at least boast a managerial career spanning four decades, during which he managed 16 teams in eight different countries. He led Switzerland to the World Cup in 1994 and the Euros two years later – an impressive achievement considering Switzerland had not qualified for a major tournament since the 1960s. Add to this, stints at the helm of Finland and the UAE, along with a host of clubs, including Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham and Liverpool, and you begin to understand why the FA went for Hodgson above Harry Redknapp.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Manchester United’s striker may be a walking advert for hair transplants, but there’s no knocking Rooney’s skills on the ball. The former Everton player is England’s youngest ever goal scorer and made his senior international debut aged 17 in 2003, becoming the youngest player to represent England (a record subsequently broken by Theo Walcott). Rooney’s fiery temper, however, has resulted in him being red-carded on numerous occasions, not least during England’s final qualification group stage match against Montenegro, which is why you won’t see him play until England’s third game against Ukraine on June 19.
FIFA World Ranking: 7
UEFA Euro Ranking: 1
Number of Euro appearances: 12
Previous best: Semi-finals in 1996
Qualification: Winners of Group G – 17 goals scored, 5 goals against, 38 attempts on target, 43 corners
Form (qualifying): WWDWDWWD
Fixtures: June 11 vs. France; June 15 vs. Sweden; June 19 vs. Ukraine