Graham's Blog

Gazza’s goal, Macca’s miss & heroic Hutch: England-Scotland Special

Tomorrow, England play oldest rivals Scotland at Wembley in their European Championships group game. We dug into the Big Interview archives and unearthed the recollections of three men who engaged in two famous Euros encounters between the Auld Enemies at the old Wembley in the 1990s.

One of Darren Anderton’s career highs occurred in June 1996 when England defeated the Scots 2-0. He set up Paul Gascoigne for his memorable goal with a superb pass. Darren tells us about the incredible feeling of that summer in England.

For a Scottish perspective, we first hear from Gary McAllister, who featured in the ’96 match’s pivotal moment. With the score at 1-0, David Seaman saved Gary’s penalty. Moments later, Darren picked out Gazza. Sheer agony.

Three years later, Scotland reclaimed pride in the second leg of a European Championships play-off qualifier. They trailed 2-0 from the Hampden match and would ultimately go out, but not without bloodying English noses with a magnificent 1-0 Wembley victory. The scorer and star of the show was Don Hutchison, and we hear from him last.

Scotland fans and England fans, whet your appetite with this special preview episode of the Big Interview.

Graham

Ilkay Gundogan: Let me tell you about Pep

In part two of my fascinating chat with Ilkay Gundogan, we hear about the midfielder’s admiration for his Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Pep is a genius who improves every team and every player he works with. He is also intense, and not always easy to work under because he is so demanding. But why should it be easy to be the best? Ilkay also admires Pep as an ally to those he cares about.

Ilkay has scored more goals this season than in any other, and not, he insists, because he has changed his game, but because positionally he finds himself in different areas of the pitch. Scoring makes you feel great, but it is intimidating receiving the ball in a goalscoring position. Yet there is a confidence that comes with repetition, and you learn to deal with the pressure the more you experience it.

Thanks for your time, Ilkay, and good luck for Saturday.

Graham

Ilkay Gundogan: Living My Champions League Dream

On Saturday, midfield maestro Ilkay Gundogan hopes to line up for Manchester City against Chelsea in the Champions League final. If they win, it will be the culmination of a boyhood dream kindled when he used to watch big European games featuring Turkish sides with his family in Germany.

Learning from setbacks and defeats – like disappointing early European nights as a player at Borussia Dortmund – is a recurring theme in this fascinating Big Interview with this charming man. Ilkay certainly needed to dig deep after he starred for Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund when they lost the Champions League final to Bayern Munich in 2013. There was nothing wrong in their preparation, says Ilkay, and the match was very tight. With a bit of luck, they could have won it.

Enjoy.

Graham

Brian Laudrup: Denmark 1992 – Football’s Greatest Fairy Tale Part Two

In part two of my uplifting interview with Brian Laudrup, we get into the detail of Denmark’s Euro ’92 fairy tale.

A disappointing draw with England was followed by defeat to hosts Sweden and the Danes prepared to pack their bags. But a star-studded France team underestimated Laudrup and Co, who clinched a semi-final place against the Netherlands. The Dutch were the competition’s most fancied side, featuring talents such as Rijkaard, Bergkamp and Van Basten. Yet Denmark won a penalty shoot-out to face Germany in the final in Gothenburg where Peter Schmeichel was a hero between the sticks and John Jensen scored an unlikely beauty. Perhaps Destiny also played her part for the Danes that summer.

The lesson, friends, is to never stop believing.

Graham

Brian Laudrup: Denmark 1992 – Football’s Greatest Fairy Tale Part One

Brian Laudrup was part of the Denmark side who were last-minute additions to Euro ’92. They would have been happy to have taken a point… but they only went on to win the tournament!

Brian and his brother Michael weren’t keen on coach Richard Moller Nielsen’s ideas and both quit the national side. But Brian and Neilsen managed to sort things out only three months before the Euro finals began. When Yugoslavia were disqualified and Denmark invited to take their place just eight days prior to their first game, Brian didn’t think he was recovered enough from a recent injury. But he soon warmed to the idea of proving that Denmark weren’t the ugly ducklings everyone thought they were.

Enjoy,

Graham