EURO 2012 Group D-Group of Surprises:It’s now or never for the Three Lions as Wazza returns

Wayne Rooney returns from a two game suspension against Ukraine on Tuesday fuelled by a feeling that Roy Hodgson’s team can actually win Euro 2012.Roy Hodgson has had very little time with this England side but the unity in this team and the never say die spirit has been England’s main weapon in this year’s tournament.He only had 2 months to research the playing style of Capello’s England, chose a new captain and, of course, gather a 23-man squad and prepare it to the competition.

Hodgson’s appointment became a shock decision for the FA, as everyone was almost sure about Harry Redknapp’s candidacy. Roy has a huge managerial experience behind his shoulders. He has been doing this since 1976. He has already worked with 3 other national teams before.

Statistics against:


The two teams played their opening Euro 2004 Group B match against each other, putting together a thrilling performance with an exciting drama in the end. Despite a missed penalty by David Beckham, the Englishmen were in front thanks to Frank Lampard’s goal, when a sudden Zinedine Zidane brace deep inside the injury time rewarded the defending European Champions fully deserved 3 points.

The two teams drew 1-1 in this year’s tournament.


Welbeck’s goal was the difference between the two sides in a game which saw Zlatan’s men eliminated.



England “intentionally” lost to Ukraine to throw Croatia out of World Cup 2010 qualification as vengeance for the Euro 2008 qualification series where the already qualified Balkan side ended England’s chances of playing in Austria and Switzerland.


Chelsea had bigger problems when they got a new manager in the middle of the season and managed to win the Champions League for the first time in the history. And, of course, this will add some more confidence for the Chelsea representatives John Terry and Ashley Cole.



A Jermain Defoe hat-trick against Bulgaria saw England top Group G after two matches, but hopes of running away with qualification were dented with disappointing draws at home to Montenegro and Switzerland.

However, following a comfortable win in Bulgaria and a narrow victory over Wales, the Three Lions booked their place at Euro 2012 by securing a point – albeit after taking a two-goal lead – in their final group game away to Montenegro, with qualification marred somewhat by Wayne Rooney’s second-half dismissal.

1 England (Q) 8 5 3 0 12 18
2 Montenegro 8 3 3 2 0 12
3 Switzerland 8 3 2 3 2 11
4 Wales 8 3 0 5 -4 9
5 Bulgaria 8 1 2 5 -10 5


3 – Darren Bent, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young
2 – Adam Johnson, Frank Lampard
1 – Gary Cahill


The Three Lions went on to suffer more heartache from the spot at the hands of Romania in their final group stage match at Euro 2000, before penalties again proved to be England’s downfall four years later, bowing out to Portugal in the quarter-final.

Did not enter
Group stage
Did not qualify
Group stage
Third place
Did not qualify 2000
Group stage
Did not qualify 2004
Group stage 2008
Did not qualify
Did not qualify 2012
Qualified as group winners

GENTLEMAN | Roy Hodgson

Following Fabio Capello’s shock resignation from the role in February it was  Roy Hodgson (64) who was appointed to take over from interim replacement Stuart Pearce.The 64-year-old has plenty of experience having coached the likes of Copenhagen, Fulham, Inter, Liverpool, Finland, and Switzerland. He has already made some key decisions like leaving veteran Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand out of the tournament squad.

Hodgson is not famous for being a winner. His trophy hall is only filled with several Scandinavian championship trophies and a 1997 UEFA Cup. After so much additions and subtractions due to injury hits on team members, Roy Hodgson finally announced his final 23 men for the Euro 2012, on the deadline given to submit the final list.

There were so many last minute changes due to unexpected injuries. Gareth Barry’s fall became Jagileka’s rise as he was promoted to the final squad of England for Euro 2012.Kelly replaced Cahill and Henderson came in for injured Lampard.Goalkeeper John Ruddy had to pull out  after breaking his finger in training he was replaced by Birmingham City’s Jack Butland, 19.

Hodgson has to utilize the best possible with what he had, by standing within his limits.

England squad:

Goalkeepers: 1. Joe Hart (Manchester City), 13. Robert Green (West Ham), 23. Jack Butland (Birmingham City).

Defenders: 12. Leighton Baines (Everton), 5. Martin Kelly (Liverpool), 3. Ashley Cole (Chelsea), 2. Glen Johnson (Liverpool), 14. Phil Jones (Manchester United), 15. Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), 6. John Terry (Chelsea), 18. Phil Jagielka (Everton).

Midfielders: 19. Stewart Downing (Liverpool), 4. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), 8. Henderson(Liverpool), 16. James Milner (Manchester City), 20. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), 17. Scott Parker (Tottenham), 7. Theo Walcott (Arsenal), 11. Ashley Young (Manchester United).

Forwards: 9. Andy Carroll (Liverpool), 21. Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), 10. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), 22. Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).

 THE CAPTAIN| Steven Gerrard


FA Cup : winner 2000–01, 2005–06League Cup :winner 2000–01, 2002–03, 2011–12FA Community Shield : winner 2001, 2006UEFA Champions League : winner 2004–05UEFA Cup : winner 2000–01UEFA Super Cup : winner 2001, 2005

FWA Footballer of the Year : 2009PFA Players’ Player of the Year : 2006PFA Young Player of the Year : 2001PFA Fans’ Player of the Year : 2001, 2009PFA Team of the Year : 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009Liverpool Top Goalscorer : 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2005UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match : 2005UEFA Team of the Year : 2005, 2006, 2007FIFA/FIFPro World XI : 2007, 2008, 2009FA Cup Final Man of the Match : 2006Goal of the Season : 2006England Player of the Year : 2007Member of the Order of the British Empire: 2007Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University: 2008BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award – 3rd Place: 2005

Steven Gerrard is the main man for England.Seven tackles, two clearances, three blocked shots three key passes and one assist against Les Bleus for Liverpool’s skipper.It was his  inch-perfect free-kick delivery, which led to Joleon Lescott’s opening goal.

He was at his best again as his cross led to Carroll’s goal versus Sweden. Inserted in an unnatural deep lying midfield role by Roy Hodgson, the 32- year-old showed no problems in playing out of position and was practically the initiator of almost every England’s attack as well working hard defensively.

Hodgson confirmed Steven George Gerrard (32) as the squad’s captain going into Euro 2012.He’s  closing in on 100 caps for his country and has scored in both the World Cup and European Championship.Gerrard, who made his debut 12 years ago, may not be the player he once was, but his vast experience and impressive ability to drive forward from midfield and chip in with crucial goals and assists makes him an automatic starter and the ideal player to lead his country as the Three Lions look to put recent disappointments at major tournaments behind them.

After an injury-strewn 2011 in which he did not play any international football, Steven Gerrard won his 90th cap for England in the February 2012 friendly against the Netherlands. The Liverpool  legend  has scored at each of his last three major tournaments and, if fit, has the class to deliver again at  EURO 2012.

Gerrard joined Liverpool’s youth academy at the age of nine and eventually signed professional forms in November 1997; he made his senior debut a year later and by the 2000/01 season had become the team’s key midfielder, making 50 appearances and helping them win the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup treble.

He made his international debut the day after his 20th birthday in a friendly against Ukraine,a team he will face tonight and went to EURO 2000 with England the following month.Steve G missed the 2002 FIFA World Cup through injury, however, having scored his first England goal in the memorable 5-1 qualifying win against Germany in Munich.

He was appointed Liverpool captain in October 2003 and led the Reds to UEFA Champions League glory against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005, triggering a comeback from 3-0 down with a brilliant header and winning the man of the match award plus third place in that year’s Ballon d’Or.He was more influential 12 months later in the FA Cup final, scoring twice as Liverpool defeated West Ham United FC – also on penalties after a 3-3 draw.

A major figure for England throughout the decade, he appeared at EURO 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he scored twice but missed a penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out defeat by Portugal; captained his country at the 2010 World Cup and scored early in the opener against the United States before they were kicked out by Germany.

He won England’s Footballer of the Year prize for the first time in 2009 at the end of a season in which he scored a personal-best tally of 24 goals, including 16 in the Premier League, in which Liverpool finished runners-up.He captained the Reds to League Cup glory in 2012; Liverpool’s first silverware in six years.A few weeks before he scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 Premier League victory against local rivals Everton.

England’s FinestJoe Hart


League One Play-Offs :2006–07

FA Cup : winner 2010–11

Premier League : winner 2011–12

Barclays Golden Glove: 2010–11, 2011–12

PFA Premier League Team of the Year : 2009–10, 2011–12

PFA League Two Team of the Year : 2005–06
Birmingham City Player of the Year : 2009–10
Manchester City Performance of the Season : 2010–11

Potentially the finest England goalkeeper since Peter Shilton, Charles Joseph John Hart (25),popularly known as Joe Hart had to sit and watch from the sidelines as England’s 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign turned to dust in South Africa, but the giant, blond Manchester City FC No1 keeper started all eight  EURO 2012 qualifiers and he’s been an indispensable figure for his country in Poland and Ukraine.

The tough task to overcome the group hurdle is lying on this man’s shoulders. English clubs traditionally have great goalkeepers, but theses goalkeepers are rarely Englishmen. It has been a long decade for England to look for a quality number 1 after David Seaman retired from international football.The 25-year old goalkeeper has been with Manchester City before and after it received loads of Eastern investments.Hart has kept 35 Premier League clean sheets in the past two seasons, making unbelievable saves and saving points for his team.He was in the national team reserve for a few years, but nobody doubts his place within the starting eleven now. 

Joe emerged from the youth ranks of local club Shrewsbury Town, becoming first-choice goalkeeper at the age of 18.An ever-present for the Shropshire team in 2005/06, he joined Manchester City and made his Premier League  debut against Sheffield United before loan spells at Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool .

Hart established himself as first choice at City ahead of Swedish international Andreas Isaksson but was displaced by Shay Given when the Republic of Ireland keeper arrived from Newcastle United  in January 2009.

An unused understudy to Scott Carson at the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, he was England’s No1 at the 2009 finals, saving and scoring a penalty in the team’s semi-final shoot-out success against hosts Sweden but receiving a yellow card that ruled him out of the final.

Hart had a superb 2009/10 season on loan at Birmingham City , earning recognition in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season, and travelled with England to the World Cup, where he did not add to his three caps.He returned to Manchester and became No1 under manager Roberto Mancini, starting all 38 league games and winning the FA Cup; also firmly established himself as England’s top keeper during EURO 2012 qualifying and did not suffer defeat until his 17th international – a 3-2 loss to the Netherlands at Wembley in February 2012.

The keeper kept 17 clean sheets in another ever-present campaign as Manchester City pipped Manchester United  to the 2011/12 Premier League title, the club’s first top-flight crown for 44 years.

If England is lucky enough to go further in the tournament, the Southern heavyweights Casillas and Buffon are going to have a strong competitor .Hart was backed by his teammates to be awarded the captain’s armband when John Terry was forced to give it away. Roy Hodgson had some other views on this issue, but the armband is eventually going to come to Hart sooner than later.

WAZZA| Wayne Rooney


Premier League : winner 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11

Football League Cup : winner 2005–06, 2009–10

FA Community Shield :winner 2007, 2010, 2011

UEFA Champions League :winner 2007–08

FIFA Club World Cup:winner 2008

PFA Players’ Player of the Year : 2009–10

PFA Young Player of the Year :  2004–05, 2005–06

PFA Fans’ Player of the Year : 2005–06, 2009–10

PFA Premier League Team of the Year : 2005–06, 2009–10, 2011–12

FWA Footballer of the Year :  2009–10

Goal of the Season : 2004–05, 2006–07, 2010–11

Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year : 2005–06, 2009–10

BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year : 2002

Bravo Award : 2003

UEFA Euro 2004 Team of the Tournament

FIFPro World Young Player of the Year : 2004–05

Barclays Player of the Year : 2009–10

Premier League 20 Seasons Awards(1992–93 to 2011–12):

Best Goal (vs. Manchester City, 12 February 2011)

FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball (1): 2008

England Player of the Year : 2008, 2009

Golden Boot Landmark Award 20 : 2009–10

FIFA/FIFPro World XI : 2011

Wayne Mark Rooney’s (26) last goal in a tournament was at Euro 2004. In international tournaments he hasn’t been good enough. Tonight is the time to change that.

The Manchester United star bounced back from his poor performances at the 2010 World Cup to become the first name on the team sheet for Capello during the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012. The striker netted three times in seven matches in qualification.Rooney missed the first two group stage games against France and Sweden after being handed a suspension for a petulant kick on Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic during a 2-2 draw with Montenegro in the team’s final qualifier.

Since he emerged as an 18-year-old of world-class potential at UEFA EURO 2004, Wayne Rooney has failed to live up to his lofty reputation on the international stage . In contrast, the striker’s eight seasons at Manchester United FC have yielded a succession of glittering prizes.

Born in Liverpool, he joined Everton FC as a ten-year-old and made his first-team debut at 16.He became the Premier League’s youngest marksman when he scored a sensational debut goal in the last minute against Arsenal FC in October 2002, five days before his 17th birthday.Rooney became the youngest player capped by England when he made his bow on 12 February 2003 against Australia, and went on to score four goals at UEFA EURO 2004 before leaving the field with a toe injury in the quarter-final against Portugal.

He became the world’s most expensive teenager when he left Everton for United in August 2004 and scored a sensational hat-trick on debut in a UEFA Champions League group game at home to Fenerbahçe (6-2).

He won his first trophy with United in the 2006 League Cup − when he struck twice in the final versus Wigan Athletic − before helping them to a hat-trick of Premier League titles and victory in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final against Chelsea .Wazza scored the winning goal in the final of the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup but was unable to cap an outstanding 2008/09 season with a repeat European success as United lost in Rome to FC Barcelona.

Injured and sent off at the 2006 FIFA World Cup but top-scored with nine goals for Fabio Capello’s team in a successful qualification campaign for the 2010 edition in South Africa.However,he failed to score in a frustrating final tournament,  as England bowed out in the last 16.He struck 26 league goals during the 2009/10 season − his 100th top-flight effort came in a 3-1 win versus Arsenal on 31 January − as United finished runners-up in the Premier League behind Chelsea .

He agreed a new five-year deal with United in October 2010, a matter of days after he submitted a transfer request, and scored the goal in the penultimate league game of the season at Blackburn Rovers  (1-1) which secured United a historic 19th league title.The in form strike enjoyed the most productive campaign of his career in 2011/12, yet his career-best tally of 27 league goals, which included a hat-trick in an 8-2 defeat of Arsenal, was not enough for United to retain the Premier League crown.

Rooney ’s hunger for winning, a trait seen so vividly and frequently for Manchester United can help the Three Lions win this tournament. Is this the time England will end the  46 years of hurt ?

This article was written by Nana Abiri (@NOKA88)

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