It was Glen Hoddles first game in charge of the England side that had just reached the semi-finals of their home championships in Euro 96, we all know what happened; Southgate, Germany, penalties and Gazza being a whisker away but let’s not go too far into the realms of memories I have buried so deep.
England were without Sheringham, McManaman, Anderton and Adams so Everton stars Nicky Barmby and Andy Hinchcliffe won their 5th and 1st caps respectively against a Moldova side widely considered as fodder for England. Another man made his debut on that day, 1st September 1996, and has since gone on to become England’s most famous footballer of all time, captain and record outfield player. David Beckham made his international debut at the Republican Stadium in Kishinev.
So in that respect it was a monumental day for England as they looked to banish penalty heartache in the Euros just months earlier by announcing themselves ahead of the World Cup by trolloping a European minnow and starting the path to qualification in style with a new manager at the helm. Sound familiar, yes for sure Roy Hodgson was the gaffer at the Euro’s but you would hardly class him as a stalwart manager.
That day however is one of those timely reminders in football that when you look back in history a scoreline can be deceptive. Indeed a 0-3 away reverse in favour of the Three Lions looks more than satisfactory but they did struggle for long periods in the game. Moldova had chances including an ironically failed penalty attempt and a higher quality of opposition may have disposed of an England team lacking fluidity, sound familiar again?
England won via goals from Nicky Barmby, Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer, his first as England captain. The abiding memory I have from the game is after scoring our goals the Moldovan television company who obviously held rights to the game showed the replay with an old school ‘R’ flashing in the top left hand corner; like something out of the video game Sensible Soccer.
Here are Sky’s highlights from the game, I didn’t have the luxury of Sky as a 7 year old so no funny R in the top corner I am afraid...
Times sure have changed since but Moldova’s ranking in World Football remains largely the same and a similar performance is likely from England, lacklustre but victorious, a feature we as England fans of the ‘golden generation’ have grown accustomed too particularly since the 5-1 win in Germany.
Will such a performance this time be enough or does there need to be more than just winning points in order to achieve the Holy Grail of international trophies.
All will be revealed in time, one thing that is for sure is that unless England win in style in Chisinau on Friday it will not be good enough for some of us.
image: © birdies-perch