Football Programmes Centre

Have England Overtaken the Rest of Europe?

For so long, the Three Lions made it their business to underperform and disappoint when they featured in international tournaments. The fanfare around the English side in the early 2000s was built from the national press calling them England's 'Golden Generation', which led to many fans being totally and utterly convinced that these lauded stars would be the ones to return the glory years.

That obviously made the impending heartbreak all the harder to deal with as England flunked on the international stage time and time again. For love or money, the likes of Gerrard, Scholes, Lampard, Rooney, Beckham, Owen, or Ferdinand couldn't replicate their domestic form once they put on the Three Lions shirt.

It all came to a head when England were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil during the group stages, which was followed up by an exit in the round of 16 at the hands of Iceland during Euro 2016. Something had to change and, for the first time since the millennium, England fans were able to see their international reality for what it was: all talk with very little success to show.

The moment the FA realised just how far behind the Three Lions were, they decided to invest heavily in grassroots football so that the national team could begin finding an identity that would provide success on the international stage.

The world was able to see the first bit of fruit that the FA's decision started to bear during the 2018 World Cup when England reached the semi-finals before being knocked out by Croatia. It was the furthest England had gone in the World Cup since 1990 and, with manager Gareth Southgate's insistence on giving youth a chance, there's a reason to believe it won't take another 28 years for England to reach the last four.

Indeed, with young Lions such as Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Harry Kane, and Harry Maguire coming through now, England fans can remain cautiously optimistic of winning an international trophy soon. Naturally, the FA and Southgate will want to guard against players buying into their own hype like they did during the era of the Golden Generation, but a constant flow of good results suggest feet are very firmly on the ground at St George's Park.

A 5-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic was the latest indication that England are only getting stronger. A few years back, punters would have been left at a crossroads when considering what to bet on today when England played, as inconsistency plagued the national side. That is certainly not the case now, and you just have to look at what the pros at betconnect predicted when they said the Three Lions would roar past the Czechs to know that they are now becoming a safe bet in the eyes of the professionals.

Further proof of England's domination doesn't just stop there; four English teams have now made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, a feat last achieved in 2009, some ten years ago.

It may be slightly premature to suggest England have overtaken the rest of Europe, but the results are starting to paint that picture. Historically, actions have always spoken louder than words, and right now, the Three Lions are out to beat the world's elite. They have good reason for being quietly confident that they can.