By James Capps
As England prepare themselves for another tilt at continental glory, nothing quite beats looking back at goals of yesteryear to whet our footballing whistles.
Today, we’re taking a look back at our five favourite England goals from European Championship finals…
1. Alan Shearer v Holland (Euro ‘96)
We usually associate “Total Football” with the Dutch, but it was in fact the hosts who provided the free-flowing, flexible footy as they romped to a 4-1 victory to seal top spot in Group A.
Shearer had already scored from the penalty spot to set England on their way at Wembley, but his emphatic finish at the end of a gorgeous passing move put the game well and truly beyond the rather wingless Flying Dutchmen.
2. Ray Wilkins v Belgium (Euro ‘80)
The late, great Ray Wilkins wasn’t the most prolific of goal scoring international midfielders, but his effort against Belgium at the 1980 European Championships was well worth waiting for.
The 23-year-old Manchester United man latched onto a loose ball after a cross was cleared, before cleverly dinking the ball over the onrushing Belgian defence.
He suddenly found himself one-on-one with the keeper and showed bucketloads of composure to lob the ball home and put the Three Lions a goal up.
England were to be pegged back almost immediately in what was ultimately a disappointing campaign, but this was one of the few highlights.
3. Wayne Rooney v Croatia (Euro 2004)
The young Everton striker was still a month or two away from signing on the dotted line for a move to Manchester United, but even before making the switch to Old Trafford, England fans knew they had a real talent on their hands.
The 18-year-old launched himself onto the international scene thanks to an excellent brace against Switzerland in England’s second group match, but in a crunch game against Croatia, Rooney came up clutch with a rasping drive from the edge of the area to put England 2-1 up just before half-time.
England went on to win the game 4-2 and qualify for the knockout stages, but my memory gets a little hazy from there….
4. Andy Carroll v Sweden (Euro 2012)
This may be a slightly controversial selection, but it makes our list, just for the sheer Englishness of the goal.
Andy Carroll’s stock had taken something of a dip after a disappointing season following a big-money move to Liverpool, but he became the toast of the nation in England’s opening group game against bogey side Sweden.
Reds colleague Steven Gerrard swung in a pinpoint cross from just over the halfway line and Carroll leapt like a Geordie salmon to crash home an unstoppable header past Andreas Isaksson.
5. Paul Gascoigne v Scotland (Euro ‘96)
Come on, you didn’t think we were gonna miss this one out, did you?
Time almost stopped still when the mercurial Rangers midfielder popped a bouncing ball over Scotland centre half Colin Hendry, before smashing home a volley past his then club teammate Andy Goram in the visiting goal to send Wembley into delirium.
Heartbreak in the semi-finals against Germany was just around the corner, but in that moment, football came home.