As Frank Lampard recently announced his retirement from football, I thought it would be appropriate to examine England's golden generation, why they never realised their full potential and where has it left us now. Although the term may have been used over a more extensive period of time, I will focus on the #euro 2004 Championship.

The hope and expectation

But what cannot be denied is the immense potential that these group of players had. They were all established Premier League individuals; players who had won league titles, had played in the Champions League and were considered to be, as the Daily Mail stated, at "the peak of their powers".

Advertisements
Advertisements

But it never worked out. But it so could have. As reported in the Telegraph newspaper, Gary Neville stated that "Euro 2004 could have been ours". Neville refers specifically to one moment in the tournament itself; 27 minutes into the England v Portugal quarter-final, when Wayne Rooney "limped off with a broken metatarsal". The former defender states that in the first half-hour Rooney was "ripping Portugal to shreds. They couldn't handle him". But why did we fail in that tournament? Rio Ferdinand claimed that the tag of 'golden generation' had a negative effect on the players' ability to perform. Besides the pressure, another problem may have been the hype made by the press. The way the media built up and pressured the players may have had a knock-on effect as well. But maybe it was simply bad luck.

Advertisements

Had Rooney not gotten himself injured in that quarter-final game England may well have gone all the way. But they did not. And we have never come so close to winning a major trophy since.

Where are we today?

Today we are a million miles away from where we were. In the team of 2004 we had many strong characters; the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Sol Campbell, John Terry and Michael Owen. Only now we have #Wayne Rooney (who is on the decline) and maybe Joe Hart/Gary Cahill who can be described as big characters. We have a number of young players and whilst that is a positive, a real mix of youth and experience is required. Although the 'golden generation' may not have reached their full potential as a team, they did reach the quarter-finals in both 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. And now? All we have is an embarrassing defeat to Iceland in the last-16 of Euro 2016, as reported on the BBC.

Wherever we go from here, what the one overriding thought will be is that we missed our opportunity when we had the 'golden generation'. The sad thing is, that amount of talent in one team may never come again.