What England's Euro 2024 team can learn from the Golden Generation

  • England's Golden Generation consistently failed on the international scene
  • Stars of the 2000s could not put their rivalries aside for the sake of the Three Lions
  • Here's what Gareth Southgate's squad can learn from their underachieving predecessors
Can England finally succeed where the Golden Generation couldn't?
Can England finally succeed where the Golden Generation couldn't? /

England's fabled Golden Generation of the 2000s had everything a top team needs to claim silverware on the international stage. However, time after time at the World Cup and European Championship, the Three Lions came up short.

The reasons for their consistent failures have become more well known with a number of former internationals speaking of their experiences in the punditry arena, but their efforts have already been trumped by Gareth Southgate's side, who came third at the 2018 World Cup and finished runners-up to Italy at Euro 2020.

However, as the 58-year wait for a second international tournament triumph lingers on, the likes of Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden must avoid falling into the same traps as their predecessors.

Here's what England can learn from the maligned set of 2000s and 2010s stars ahead of Euro 2024.

Finally put club rivalries aside

Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher
Former England stars couldn't put their rivalries aside / Michael Regan/GettyImages

The Instagram algorithm is never far away from playing a video of a former England international revealing where it all went wrong under Sven-Goran Eriksson. At least it isn't for this writer.

Be it stories of Manchester United stars eating lunch quickly together or Paul Scholes smirking when Steven Gerrard said he never won a league title, the former batch of players simply could not get past the fact that they were simultaneously England teammates and Premier League rivals.

That disconnect reared its ugly head time and time again at international tournaments, but there's more hope that it won't be an issue for the current squad at Euro 2024. Their two main leaders in Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham both play in foreign countries, while no top-six side in England outright dominates Southgate's squad in representation. In fact, it's Crystal Palace who have most representatives with four.

Rivalries aside, that's class.

Be selfless for the cause

Euro 2004: England v Switzerland
England were a team of individuals at Euro 2004 / Phil Cole/GettyImages

The role of club rivalries and selflessness are a little intertwined but it's a separate issue for Southgate to preside over.

Back in the Golden Generation's heyday, Eriksson decided plugging central midfielders into wide roles would make the team great, but instead it denied the side a natural fluency with too many stars wanting to come central to make things happen.

That particular problem won't be an issue with the current squad, who are more aware of their strengths and roles, but Southgate cannot allow any of his players to get away with murder, be it a lax work ethic or any attempts to disrupt the squad harmony the manager has worked so hard to implement in recent years.

Key figures like Kane, Bellingham, Foden and Bukayo Saka have had the importance of hard work and team ethic drummed into them from early ages and it must not be forgotten at Euro 2024.

Don't believe the hype

Harry Kane
England must stay humble during the Euros / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

The same problem England have with every tournament has surfaced again in the build-up to Euro 2024. Pundits from all walks of the media have suggested England simply 'should' or 'must' win the trophy this summer, regardless of their previous record or the star-filled squads of nations like France, Germany and Portugal.

The Golden Generation undoubtedly got swallowed up by the expectation created by the English media and suddenly believed they were the best players on the planet. That arrogance repeatedly came to the fore in tournament exits to Portugal and Germany and their total failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

It's easy to wax lyrical over the Three Lions' current impressive roster, but make no mistake about it; they've won zilch so far. Hey, they even finished their preparations in horrendous fashion by losing 1-0 to bogey team Iceland at Wembley Stadium.

There are thankfully some more grounded and self-aware individuals in the setup this time around but if England go into Euro 2024 thinking other teams will fold and they will waltz to victory, things will get nasty quickly.

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