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From Gazza’s tears at Italia ’90 to the infamous WAGs saga in Germany 2006, the England national team has always been subject of intense scrutiny at major tournaments.

Recently however, Gareth Southgate has built a team that has made it to a World Cup semi-final and European Championship final in their last two tournament outings.

Now, as the Three Lions gear up to face France on Saturday, former defender Rio Ferdinand has claimed that this is the ‘best England team of his lifetime’.

Here PLZ Soccer takes a look at 3 of the most iconic England sides of the last 40 years and how they compare to the side performing in Qatar:

ENGLAND 2022

Firstly, let’s look at the current crop of English players that are building up so much hope amongst punters and pundits alike.

Jude Bellingham is attracting attention from some Europe’s biggest club sides, with the 19-year-old often driving the England team forward and growing into a leader on the park.

Questions still remain over the defence however, with Harry Maguire and John Stones looking like a potential weak spot for opposition teams to target.

 

ENGLAND 2006

Man for man, this may well be the strongest England side ever. Branded as a golden batch of players, in almost every position there is a generational talent that rolls off of the tongue.

Their problem? This iteration of the national side always underperformed on the biggest stage when it mattered most.

Under the tutelage of Sven Goran Eriksson, they got dumped out at the quarter final stage of the 2006 World Cup at the hands of Portugal and never solved their central midfield conundrum of getting the best out of either Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard.

 

ENGLAND 1996

Looking back to 1996, England were hosts of the European Championships and the immortal words, ‘it’s coming home’ were first uttered.

It did not however, ‘come home’ and instead Germany inflicted penalty shoot-out heartache in the semi-finals. Current manager Gareth Southgate was the villain of the piece, missing the crucial spot kick.

There was quality running throughout the team though, as Alan Shearer was a force of nature up-front and a young Steve Mcmanaman was on the cusp of a move to Real Madrid.

Paul Gascoigne provided debatably the moment of the tournament with his goal against Scotland, leading to his famous ‘dentist chair’ celebration.

 

ENGLAND 1990

Finally, the side that travelled to Italy in 1990 looking to restore the name of English football on the world stage following a ban for club sides in Europe.

Led by the legendary figure of Bobby Robson in the dugout, the world sat up took notice of Paul Gascoigne in the middle of the park. The young Tottenham Hotspur playmaker attacked the game with an effervescence, the likes of which English football had never seen.

It was to end in (literal) tears though, as Gascoigne was booked in the semi-final meaning he would miss any final appearance. This would ultimately prove not to matter as his side crashed out on penalties, with the German’s again being their conquerors.