As part of the Paddy Power Presents series, YouTuber Mark Goldbridge sat down with former England midfielder Paul Ince to discuss the upcoming UEFA European Championships and share his experiences of representing his country on the international stage.
Looking ahead to this summer’s highly anticipated tournament, Ince expressed his hopes for Gareth Southgate’s side, earmarking the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as the turning point for the Three Lions.
“I’m feeling quite excited,” the 53-year-old said. “Any time there’s a big tournament, whether it’s a World Cup or the Euros, there’s always an expectation of England to do well.
“When you go back to the 2018 World Cup, losing in the semi-finals was a bit of a blow because if I’m being totally honest, that was the best time for us to win the World Cup because of the way the group stages went – the teams weren’t great – and we got a got a great draw against Colombia and then Croatia.”
He added: “Any other team – the ‘98 or the ‘96 Euro team – if we’d have had that draw that England had in 2018, we would have won the World Cup.
“So, that was disappointing but it was also great because it brought all the fans back and made us believe again about our international side. Since then, we’ve had the lockdown and the pandemic, but looking at this squad now, I am very excited.”
When asked if England, who were ranked as the bookmakers’ pre-tournament joint favourites, can go all the way, Ince added: “Expectation? Yes. Do I think they’ll go and win it? I’d love to say yes but I don’t expect them to go and win it.
“The youth we’ve got in the squad, the likes of Foden, Mount and Grealish, we’ve got some exciting players and that’s what I’m looking forward to at the Euros.”
Turning back the clock, the former Manchester United and Liverpool star reminisced about his memories of the continental competition, including the 1996 edition of the European Championships, when England hosted the tournament.
He also contended that this year’s tournament, which takes on a multi-city format and sees Wembley Stadium host a handful of games, could give Southgate’s side a boost.
“It’s massive,” Ince stated. “For fans who remember Euro ‘96, it was such a big advantage, even just leaving the hotel and going up towards Wembley Way and seeing all the cars and people hanging out of houses and people drinking outside the pub!
“It was amazing and when you get into that stadium, the old Wembley, that atmosphere was electric and it can be intimidating for the opposing team. Sometimes you can be a bit scared by it and a bit nervous or sometimes you embrace it.”