The Thursday Preview: Germany Vs England
David James is the one Coca Cola Championshipper due to play a part in Sunday’s apocalyptic clash, so a preview of the game suggesting that Mesut à–zil is the new Zidane and extolling the virtues of ex-Reading loanee Matthew Upson is probably surplus to requirements here. Hence, and more in the spirit of a blog than a website, I have decided to share my own memories of the fixture’s history.
With only a vague recall of a 2-1 friendly defeat in the run up to the Argentina World Cup, my solidest memory of all is of a game I actually attended — another defeat by the same scoreline at Wembley in 1982. As a wide eyed 13 year old, I remember the excellence of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s two goals — I’d still place “Kalle” alongside Ossie Ardiles, John Barnes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin Keegan and Alain Giresse as the best I have seen in the flesh. That was a vaguely experimental German side in the wake of a World Cup final defeat earlier that year, but the green shirted visitors won on merit.
From thereon in, my experiences of the West Germany-England and Germany-England encounters have been televisual. Kerry Dixon, another ex-Reading hero of mine, scored twice as the Three Lions triumphed 3-0 in a Mexican precursor of the Confederations Cup in 1985, but a 3-1 Littbarski inspired beating in Düsseldorf amidst a perfect qualifying campaign for Euro 88 proved to be a portent of the calamitous return trip to the Bundesrepublik a year later. Indeed, it wasn’t until the subject matter of One Night in Turin and 1990 that England were to recapture their self-respect: fresh out of university and jobless, I jumped on my Dad as Lineker scored, innocently unaware at that stage of how much I would later come to dislike him as a studio anchorman.
The Nineties were torrid for Albion, never more so than the moment that inspired a pizza advert; the roar in Camden Town’s Oxford Arms pub as Shearer put England in front causing bemused faces on a passing bus, a thinly populated one of course. England’s mini 15 years of hurt finally ended in a soul destroying tale of bald men fighting over a comb — both teams exiting Euro 2000 ignominiously as I argued with a mate over the aforementioned striker’s merits in a long closed Irish boozer in East Finchley.
The next two milestones were enjoyed abroad. Spitting bile at the pointlessness of BBC World, I enjoyed the pinnacle of Sven’s England career and, as our regular commenter Gerschenkron would have it, Germany 1 Liverpool 5 in another Emerald Isle inspired establishment, only this time amid expats in Geneva. A year previously, a youth hostel in the post-industrial New South Wales city of Newcastle was my vantage point as Didi Hamann put paid to KK on a rainsoaked deck: a not unfitting send off for the old Wemberlee.
So to the two most recent encounters that have left honours even: another Royals hero Nicky Shorey enjoyed his second and last cap as Christian Pander crowned the Nationalmannschaft’s only visit thus far to Kingsbury borders. Then, I saw Gabby Agbonlahor cause havoc in Berlin, bleary eyed in a Singapore hotel room at 4 in the morning. On Sunday, I’ll return to the very room where I witnessed Gazza’s tears, mysteriously confident given what’s been served up so far.