World Champions England. Those are three words you’ll never tire of reading and we’d just achieved that feat for the second time in English football history at South Korea 2034.
The whole country was, of course, on a high and World Cup Final goalscorers Andy Stockbridge and George Clarke, national captain and all-round legend Philip Cohen and vice-captain Phil Foden were now… Sir Andy Stockbridge, Sir George Clarke, Sir Philip Cohen and Sir Phil Foden.
However, the task of international football brought us all down to the ground as a tedious Nations League group swiftly followed. We won a group including Holland and Austria to take us into the summer finals, which we also won 3-2 in extra-time against Italy! And that success took me into the Worldwide Hall of Fame for the first time.
Ahead of another summer tournament success, the qualification group for Euro 2036 began. We were drawn in a group with Poland, Georgia, Israel and Moldova, and the toughest fixture was up first – away to Poland.
Euro Qualis round 1
And if this game was anything to go by, this group was going to be a doddle. Mason Greenwood won an early penalty that Sir Foden blasted home, then teed up centre-back Stuart Josey-Hopkins for a second. They scored with their second shot of the match but midfielder Sir Andy Stockbridge was at it again as he scored a screamer to seal an easy win.
Captain Sir Cohen marked the momentous occasion of his 100th cap by bagging a hat-trick in a 7-0 thrashing of Moldova. Debutant Brighton centre-back Ollie Bayliss also scored, while Everton left-winger John Smith scored his first England goal on his 4th cap. Sir Cohen’s haul took him to 64 goals in his 100 caps.
Euro Qualis round 2
The next round of games took us to Georgia first and we breezed to a 3-0 win, with 35-year-old Sir Foden leading the way with a goal and an assist and 33-year-old Greenwood bagging his 66th goal for England. But it should have been many more considering we had 43 shots. And the same was true of a 2-0 win at home to Israel, in which we had 44 shots.
Euro Qualis round 3
The domination continued as we entertained nearest challengers Poland and waltzed into a 3-0 first-half lead with goals from Sir Clarke, Lewis Pearson-Elsdon and Sir Foden’s 48th for his country.
He added his 49th while Sir Clarke bagged a hat-trick, which took him to 65 goals from 78 caps, as we won 7-2 in Moldova – although how they scored two from four shots is beyond me. And that wrapped up qualification for the Euro 2036!
Euro Qualis round 4
With qualification in the bag, an interesting subplot was unfolding in the race to become England’s all-time top goalscorer. Marcus Rashford currently holds the record with 73 goals. But going into game nine against Georgia, Greenwood had 67 goals followed by Sir Cohen and Sir Clarke both on 65.
We romped home to beat Georgia 5-0. Greenwood led the way with a brace that took him on to 69 goals, while Sir Cohen scored one to take him ahead of Sir Clarke on 66. Foden also scored to take his tally to 50 goals for England, which is pretty damn impressive. While centre-back Ollie Bayliss rounded off the rout with his second goal in five caps.
Greenwood raced further towards the record with another brace in a 4-1 win at Israel to conclude the group. Sir Foden also scored again, alongside backup 6-foot 8-inch striker Edward Bennett’s opener.
And that ensured we again qualified for a major tournament with a 100% winning record, finishing a mighty 12 points clear of second-placed Israel. Greenwood was our top scorer with 7 goals, but that got nowhere near the remarkable 17 scored by Belgium’s elite striker Marc Guillaume.
However, Greenwood’s tally of 67 shots was the most in the qualification process, while Sir Foden was up there with the best creativity stats with 6 assists – only bettered by Belgium’s Nathan Callens (who’s a special player at Real Madrid) with 10.
Join us next time in the Three Lions thread of this The Journeyman save as we head to Euro 2036!