WORDS BY SIMON E. SMITH
For those of you that have been living under a rock for the past several weeks, EURO 2016 has arrived. Prepare for screaming, drinking and random displays of affection between people you wouldn't ever usually see together. As a warm up, we thought it would be apt to put together a small collection of past England lions we all love and why…and not always for what they did on the pitch.
Just for his epic rap (2:30) alone in the 1990 New Order song “World in Motion” John Barnes had to be on this list. “Catch me if you can cos I’m the England man” – what a classic line. The Jamaican-born winger played on the left for the Three Lions and made 79 appearances in that 12-year span. Jah Rastafari! Many a goal by “Digger” will go unforgotten in the minds of Liverpool fans, but no self-respecting Englishman will forget this goal against Brazil in 1984 – considered by many to be the greatest goal ever scored by England. At least once a month here at GS, we acknowledge the greatness of Digger by listening to him belting out Rapper’s Delight…with Jamie Redknapp.
For a man that can barely string a sentence together, he sure has achieved a hell of a lot. David Robert Joseph Beckham is for many football fans, the best player of the current generation of English footballers. Golden Balls boasts the second highest number of caps in England’s history – second only to Peter Shilton – and is considered one of the best midfielders of all time. Off the field, however, brand Beckham is responsible for at least 4000 different hairstyles. Remember when he turned up to meet Nelson Mandela sporting cornrows? Classic Becks. We love him for everything that the OBE has achieved from his free kicks to his charity work and everything in-between.
For many of us, bumbling forward Emile Ivanhoe Heskey will be best remembered as the ‘fall guy’ – the footballer a manager would send on if more time was needed. For such a big unit, he had a remarkable ability to fall over - bets were often made on how soon after starting Heskey would be on the floor. For 62 England appearances, he scored a whopping seven goals. That’s pretty poor for a forward whose job it is to score goals. Who’s forgotten the botched step-over attempted against Algeria in 2010, in case you have, here it is again. With that said, Heskey is the kind of star that gave the regular man hope. If Heskey can do it, then why can’t I? He made the impossibility of becoming a world-class footballer a possibility. Thanks Emilie.
Robert Fredrick Chelsea Moore has to appear on the list for the very reason that he’s the guy holding the Jules Rimet Cup in that iconic photograph. The icon captained the England team to their first and only ever World Cup win in 1966. Pele cited the man as being the greatest defender he had ever played against and Moore was the first footballer to be awarded the coveted BBC Sports Personality of the Year title in 1966. In fact, he was such a lad that according to football writer Brian Greenville, Moore would regularly go on a big night out but always turn up for training with his club West Ham the next morning. Something we do regularly here but with little success.