LIFTING THE LID: England and Scotland will face off at Wembley on Friday, a quarter of a century on from their memorable clash at Euro 96 and so we caught up with former Scotland International Kevin Gallacher to relive that unique occasion.

When England and Scotland walk out of the tunnel at Wembley on Friday night for their crunch Euro 2020 clash, it will mark 25 years since the great rivals met inside the same stadium at Euro 96.

25 years on from Gazza’s goal, Seaman’s save, the dentist’s chair and all that, in what has stood the test of time as an all-time international classic.

“It was just massive to be a part of that game,” Kevin Gallacher, a member of Scotland’s Euro 96 squad, tells BETDAQ. “When you’re looking back at your career and at that game, you think ‘25 years ago, where did that go?!’ You still remember it like it was yesterday.”

That’s the case for most England and Scotland fans who were around to experience this particular instalment of the Auld Enemy rivalry, with iconic images and recollections still fresh in the memory 25 years later.

Friday’s clash between the two neighbours bears a number of similarities to that Euro 96 epic. Besides involving the same teams, in the same venue and at the same tournament, it’s also the second group stage game again for both sides, with England also heading into this one as the favourites and Scotland as the underdogs.

But while England approach Friday with a victory over Croatia under their belts and Scotland a defeat to Czech Republic, at Euro 96 both teams had secured a point in their opening fixtures – the Three Lions drawing with Switzerland and the Tartan Army earning a point off Holland.

It was vital then for both teams to pick up a result that day on a gloriously sunny afternoon at Wembley.

“There’s always that weight of expectation against England,” says Gallacher, who won 53 caps for Scotland. “We believed we could beat England and rightly so. We knew we had a good side, played good football, we could defend well and were good in attack. We believed we could go down and get a result against England. We were quietly confident after drawing with Holland, who were a world-class side.”

Gallacher added: “Leading into it, the atmosphere was unbelievable. Walking up the tunnel at Wembley, going across the dog track, going to the halfway line… That feeling itself, when you’re going out and you hear the fans singing and chanting. The hairs on the back of your neck are standing up. There’s nothing better than a Scotland-England game and the atmosphere. It’s how you can control your nerves that is key…”

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The first 45 minutes at Wembley certainly proved to be a nervy affair, with little in the way of major goal-mouth action.

That all changed eight minutes after the restart however, as Alan Shearer opened the scoring for a much-improved England with a back-post header from a Gary Neville cross to set the tone for what was to be a thrilling second half.

“England took the lead and you think, ‘oh no, here we go, it’s one of those games’. It had to be Shearer…” says Gallacher, who was a Blackburn team-mate of the England striker at the time. “Shearer got the opening goal which made it difficult for us and we thought this is where we have to fight back and we have to give it everything and see if we can get back into the game to win it.”

An embattled Scotland did fight their way back into the game and came close to an equaliser through a Gordon Durie header that was clawed away superbly by David Seaman.

But with just 12 minutes left on the clock, the Tartan Army’s golden moment had arrived as Durie was brought down in the box by Tony Adams for a penalty.

“When we got the penalty, that was the changing moment for us,” Gallacher says. “Nine times out of 10, Gary McAllister scores…”

But on this occasion McAllister was to be denied from the spot by a brilliant save from Seaman. Scotland hearts sunk, England players rejoiced and the majority of Wembley erupted with delight.

“Uri Geller’s magic worked for England apparently… I don’t know anything about that!” Gallacher says, referencing the paranormalist’s infamous claim that, while flying above Wembley in a helicopter during the game, he caused McAllister to miss by moving the ball using the power of psychokinesis.

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“Gary went to take the penalty, David Seaman got his hands to it. For me that was the turning point as England were getting their backs to the wall. For me, we had the opportunities to get back into the game, we had the opportunities to win the game. But then you just see what Gazza can turn out to do…”

Within 90 seconds of Seaman’s save, Paul Gascoigne had made it two via the most memorable act of the match and through one of England’s most iconic of goals.

Gascoigne received the ball from Darren Anderton before lobbing it over Hendry with his first touch and then volleying it past Rangers team-mate Andy Goram with his second.

A magic goal was followed by an equally memorable celebration.

Gazza lay onto his back while England players sprayed water into his mouth, mimicking the dentist’s chair drinking game that the Three Lions squad had come under fire for during their trip to Hong Kong prior to Euro 96.

“It was horrible,” Gallacher recalls. “But Gazza, the quality… He makes a run, he gets forward and just by surprise, he lumps it in the air over the top of Colin Hendry, and Colin trying to turn back quickly, obviously lost his footing. You think Gazza still had a lot to do but to beat Andy Goram from that distance, he just took it so early and it was phenomenal. A great finish from Gazza.”

The final whistle sounded not long after as England ran out 2-0 winners, though Scotland and their fans had every right to feel unlucky.

“We felt hard done by,” Gallacher says. “When we looked at the occasion, we thought it never came to us, it never happened. We had opportunities, but we couldn’t hit the back of the net with them.

“You think, what if that penalty went in, would Gazza have got that opportunity? I don’t think so, but that’s what sometimes happens. We missed a penalty, England’s chests got puffed out, they rose their game a little bit. Our game got nullified a little bit and we were just trying to plod away to get back into the game.”

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Victory for England would ignite their Euro 96 campaign, one that would see the hosts thrash Holland 4-1 in their next group game before going on reach the semi-finals of the competition, where they suffered penalty shootout heartache to eventual winners Germany.

But Scotland weren’t yet down and out. Victory against Switzerland in their final group game coupled with a heavy Holland defeat to England meant they could still reach the knockout stages.

The Tartan Army did their bit with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Ally McCoist, and with England 4-0 up against Holland, the Three Lions even looked to be doing their best to help out their rivals.

“At one point we’d qualified from the group stage,” Gallacher recalls. “But then in a matter of seconds, Holland had scored. That’s how cruel the game can be to you. We were one goal away from getting out of the group stage, going on to do something that no other Scottish national side had done. Unfortunately England let us down by letting Holland score! England were teasing us…”

Fast forward 25 years to Euro 2020, and Scotland will this time be aiming to go one better by making it out of the group stage. Getting a result against England on Friday would go a long way in helping the nation to achieve such a feat.

“England will believe that they can go and walk all over Scotland, I think that’s the way that their players will approach it. ‘This will be easy, it’s only Scotland,’” Gallacher says. “I hope England are thinking that, and hopefully that’ll do Scotland some favours.”

Gallacher adds: “It’s a game where legends can be made for Scotland. Playing against England is a big thing, but if you score against them it’s even bigger. If you score and you win against them then the fans will never ever forget about it and that’s what the Tartan Army is all about.”

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