5 great Euros semi-finals involving Reds
Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford are all preparing for England’s crunch Euro 2020 semi-final with Denmark on Wednesday.
Jadon Sancho will also hope to be involved after an agreement with Borussia Dortmund was reached for his transfer to United, and he played the full 90 minutes in Saturday’s 4-0 thumping of Ukraine in Rome.
Meanwhile, David De Gea is with the Spain squad as they look to get past Italy in their bid to win a third title out of four in this competition.
Whether or not you’re a fan of any of the teams involved, you’ll no doubt be wishing our players well in what should be one of the most memorable games of their careers.
Here we look at five times United players have previously been involved in the last four…
BOBBY CHARLTON, 1968
England’s first semi-final appearance at the Euros came in 1968, when the tournament was much smaller than it is now. After successfully making it past Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and then Spain in qualifying, Sir Alf Ramsey’s world champions faced Yugoslavia in Florence for the chance to play Italy in the final. Unfortunately, Dragan Dzajic’s 86th-minute strike prevented Bobby Charlton and co – Alex Stepney and Nobby Stiles were on the bench after our European Cup success – from becoming the first team to win the World Cup and Euros back-to-back. Charlton did score in the third place play-off win over Soviet Union, though.
PETER SCHMEICHEL, 1992
Denmark shocked the continent in 1992 by winning the competition, despite not initially qualifying. Parachuted into Group 1 in place of Yugoslavia, who were banned due to UN sanctions in the midst of the war in the Balkans, the Danes squeaked through to the last four but would have to go up against holders and favourites the Netherlands. In the battle between the world’s best striker and goalkeeper, our no.1 won out. After a dramatic 2-2 draw, in which the Dutch equalised at the death, Schmeichel palmed away Marco van Basten’s penalty in the shootout to give Richard Moller Nielsen’s men their date with destiny.
THE NEVILLE BROTHERS, 1996
Gary, who played in every other England game at the tournament, was suspended and Phil an unused substitute, but we couldn’t go without mentioning this epoch-defining game at Wembley – the last time the Three Lions got to this stage at the Euros. Swept along by a fervent home crowd, England looked to finally be bringing it home when Alan Shearer stooped to head in with just three minutes on the clock, but Stefan Kuntz soon equalised and, despite a number of agonising near-misses, all England fans know what happened next, as Germany’s 1990 World Cup semi-final victory on penalties was repeated, with future manager Gareth Southgate the unfortunate fall guy.
FABIEN BARTHEZ, 2000
The transfer of World Cup winner Barthez from Monaco to United had been announced just prior to the tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands and he was a standout, colourful presence as Les Bleus added the European bauble to their 1998 success. A superb save to deny Pavel Nedved helped France beat Czech Republic and make it through in second place in ‘the Group of Death’. He then tipped over Abel Xavier’s injury-time header in the semi-final, as Zinedine Zidane eventually scored an extra-time Golden Goal to set up a final date with Italy. Barthez’s form in goal was enough to earn him a place in the Team of the Tournament – like Schmeichel eight years previously.
CRISTIANO RONALDO, 2004
Ronaldo had just completed an eye-catching debut campaign with United and, although he was yet to find the remarkable consistency he is still showcasing at the age of 36, the teenager had established himself in a strong Portugal side still dominated by their ‘Golden Generation’ of the 1990s. Given a start in the semi-final by Luiz Felipe Scolari, he powerfully headed home the opener as the tournament hosts took an early lead against the Netherlands. A Maniche strike ended up being the actual match winner in a 2-1 victory but, although Portugal were stunned by Greece in the final, a nation had found itself a new hero, who has incredibly just equalled the men's international scoring record 17 years on.