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Still reviving the "Spirit of '66"
It should come as no surprise that the bulk of England's national team plays its club football with Manchester United and Liverpool. During the 2000-2001 season, the two clubs accounted for all of England's domestic trophies as well as the UEFA Cup, and that kind of experience has formed the core of Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad.
David Beckham is already a legend at club level, with Eriksson calling him the world's best free kick taker, and at twenty-five he is the captain of an England team that features Liverpool forwards Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Robbie Fowler.
With Owen proving that he is among the best strikers in the world (when not sidelined by his weak hamstrings), England fields a lineup capable of flowing, attacking football, applying the kind of consistent pressure usually associated with club sides that spend substantially more time with each other. At the back, defenders Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell have looked shaky on occasions but once an understanding is built up between them and young Arsenal wing back Ashley Cole, they should form a stalwart defense with both speed and power.
Though many members of the current squad were also there for a less than impressive UEFA European Championship Belgium/The Netherlands 2000 and the quarter-final loss to Argentina at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France, they hope to link themselves with the likes of the 1990 squad that fell one game short of the final, or better yet, the legendary 1966 squad that lifted the FIFA World Cup on home soil.
With their coach and many of their supporters believing that the current team has only yet shown glimpses of the kind of football they are capable of playing, England has the potential to erase any lingering doubts at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan.
Significant past players:
Gary Lineker, Peter Shilton, Kevin Keegan, Gordon Banks, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Stanley Matthews, Billy Wright
-- Quarter-final 1954 FIFA World Cup Switzerland
-- Quarter-final 1962 FIFA World Cup Chile
-- Champion 1966 FIFA World Cup England
-- 4th 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy
-- 3rd UEFA European Championship Italy 1968
-- Semi-final UEFA European Championship England 1996
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