England's 5 most painful World Cup exits
When Gareth Southgate’s young England squad embark on their World Cup campaign in Russia next month, they’ll be looking to somehow find a way to end over half a century of hurt for fans of the Three Lions.
Since their lone World Cup victory in 1966, England have played in a further nine tournaments and in each one, they’ve come up short.
The endings have ranged from “glorious failure” - as some observers put it, to shambolic performances that shamed the nation, but regardless of the nature, they’ve all been painful.
Some stick out as being worse than others, though. Here are England’s five most painful World Cup exits.
#5: World Cup 2010
This one was painful not only in the way that it happened (a 4-1 mauling at the hands of Germany in the round of 16) but, in what exactly it signaled.
England’s brutal loss to perhaps their greatest rivals marked the end of the group of players that the media had labeled the ‘Golden Generation’.
Expectations were relatively high for Fabio Capello’s England side going to South Africa, as they had breezed through their qualifying group, hammering Croatia twice, and the team still contained players usually considered to be world-class performers, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and John Terry.
But once they arrived at the World Cup, it seemed that bad vibes surrounded the England camp from the get-go.
Whether it was down to Capello’s poor man-management (apparently not an issue during qualifying), or disagreements surrounding Terry’s inclusion (months before the tournament, it’d been reported that he’d had an affair with teammate Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend) remains a mystery to this day, but nobody could dispute that England were shockingly poor in the group stages.
They scraped through with a win over Slovenia after disappointing draws with the USA and Algeria, but any possibilities of it simply being a slow start were killed dead in their next tie.
Germany ruthlessly exposed the Golden Generation’s advanced age and lack of pace, and England were never really in the game, despite the controversial call that ruled out what would’ve been an equalizer from Frank Lampard when Germany were 2-1 up.
It was clear from the result that things had to change for England, and although Terry, Rooney, Gerrard, and Lampard continued to represent the Three Lions, the ‘Golden Generation’ were left truly dead and buried after this tournament and never lived up to their hype.