Despite all the hype, do England have a squad capable of winning Euro 2016?
- Credit: Archant
Our resident Scot Ally McGilvray, community editor of the North Norfolk News, gives his view on the festival of football everyone is talking about (just not so much in Scotland, who didn't qualify)...
The last time I got excited about a European championships was 20 years ago – when England hosted Euro '96.
It was the last time Scotland qualified for the tournament and John Collins, who went to the same school as me, played.
However, a sublime piece of skill by Paul Gascoigne helped the home nation inflict defeat on my country of origin who, subsequently, failed to progress from the group stages.
The fact that Gazza was a Rangers player and I a Celtic fan only rubbed salt into the wound. Think Cromer versus Sheringham rivalry here.
Scotland have not qualified for a major finals since France 1998 – despite the Scottish FA backing a move to expand the finals from 16 to 24 teams this year.
Their omission from Euro 2016 came as no great surprise given they were drawn in the same qualifying group as World Cup holders Germany.
- 1 See inside this 17th century house with a hot tub and direct beach access
- 2 Man made threats to hurt ex-partner's father
- 3 Historic miller's house goes up for sale - and it needs renovating
- 4 Your say: Should we close carparks at north Norfolk beauty spots?
- 5 Nominees for the North Norfolk Awards 2021 revealed
- 6 Blickling bathed in light in stunning festive display
- 7 The £500,000 plan to redo two town loos
- 8 Scarlett-Rose gets the chop for children's charity
- 9 Christmas service returns to crematorium
- 10 Review: Cromer Pier Christmas Show at the Pavilion Theatre, Cromer
Football supporters north of the border have often been left to choose an alternative team to support to keep interest.
My second team, when they qualify, is the Republic of Ireland, given the team's links with Celtic, not least in manager Martin O'Neill; the fact that they have two Scots in their team in Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy; and, having moved to Norfolk, there is added local interest in Norwich City pair Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady earning call-ups.
My English relatives have asked me why many in the Celtic nations say they will support anyone but the Auld Enemy.
One explanation may be the perception that the media – television in particular - and business presume everyone in Britain is an England fan.
However, as a Scot now employed by the English media, I feel that might be a tad unfair. In fact, I have genuinely been surprised by how little I have heard about this year's 50th anniversary of England's World Cup win at Wembley.
With no obvious winner, although hosts France are the bookmakers favourite, the stage is set to make it a double celebration. And, with the Tartan Army sure to join the party, all the home nations will be represented.
But, despite all the hype, do England have a squad capable of winning the tournament?
Here's what a Scottish newspaper editor and Facebook friend of mine posted this week: 'Leeds United have had six managers since Jack Wilshere last completed a full 90 minutes for Arsenal. But he gets to go to the Euros and (Danny) Drinkwater, brilliant season and title winner doesn't. Roy you're a p++t.'