A EURO 2016 England warning… Four times the dark arts have cost Three Lions

Roy Hodgson has claimed he would never encourage his players to cheat or bend the rules to their advantage.

Yet countless times England seem to find themselves on the wrong end of those tricks of the trade that nations more streetwise than ourselves roll out to gain an extra edge.

Ahead of the Three Lions’ EURO 2016 opener against Russia on Saturday evening, here are FOUR occasions we’ve have ‘come a cropper’ of the ‘dark arts’…

4. Wayne Rooney v Portugal, World Cup 2006

Rooney

Rooney ultimately paid the price for his refusal to go to ground and take a cheap free-kick in this World Cup quarter-final against Portugal in Germany.

And to rub salt in the wounds it was his Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo that made it happen.

The Three Lions striker, 20 at the time, was attempting to keep possession just after the hour mark as Portugal’s players mercilessly hounded and kicked him.
As he lost the ball, and his balance, Rooney’s studs came down close to Ricardo Carvalho’s legs and the Portuguese rolled around as if his life was in danger.

But referee, Hector Elizondo, was not about to produce a card until Ronaldo pleaded with him and Rooney reacted with a shove.

That brought a swift change of heart from the official and as ‘Roo’ trudged off, Ronaldo’s wink to his team-mates said everything… “Got him!”

3. David Beckham v Argentina, World Cup 1998

becks

Glenn Hoddle guided England to the last 16 at the 1998 World Cup, ultimately won by hosts France, but our journey was to end here.

We lost, as usual, on penalties but the killer blow was landed long before that.

Locked at 2-2 with Argentina after an end-to-end first half, the second 45 minutes promised to be a corker – until Diego Simeone went in hard through the back of David Beckham.

It was a rough challenge on England’s young midfield star and it was compounded by the way he leant on the 23-year-old’s back to push himself up.

That was the final straw for Becks, who had taken a few other kicks and shoves, and he aimed a petulant kick at the midfielder’s legs.

Job done for the Argies. The force of the kick wouldn’t have been enough to hold a door open, but down went Simeone… and off went Beckham.

2. ‘Hand of God’v Argentina, World Cup 1986

shilton

This needs no introduction. Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ was the ultimate in dark art skullduggery as Argentina saw off England on their way to a second world crown.

With this Mexico quarter-final deadlocked at 0-0 after half-time in front of 114,000 fans in sweltering conditions, Maradona set off on one of his mazy runs.

Selling Terry Fenwick a dummy and walking past Glenn Hoddle, he tried a one-two on the edge of the box only for Steve Hodge to loop the ball back up towards the keeper.

And as Shilton raced off his line, Maradona disguised a deft punch to lift the ball over him and into the net.

1. Paul Gascoigne v West Germany, World Cup 1990

gazza

This may seem an unlikely rival to the ‘Hand of God’, but the ramifications were massive as it sent shockwaves through English football, wrecking the chance of a first final since 1966.

Further still, whereas Diego’s handball was picked up immediately on TV cameras, this one has remained largely hidden, even 26 years on, so wily and sly was its execution.

The score was locked at 1-1 in the first half of extra-time and a young Gazza, the unexpected star of the tournament in Italy, showed a little too much of the ball to West Germany’s Thomas Berthold.

Stretching to keep possession, it looked like Gazza had felled the German. But ,if you look closely at a replay from the right angle, you can see he does not touch him.

That, of course, did not stop Berthed hitting the deck like a sack of spuds and rolling once, twice, three times.

The yellow card meant the end Gascoigne’s tournament, regardless of the result, was over, and, if the tears and the torment were not bad enough, the penalty shootout sparked a fear of spot-kicks from which England have simply never recovered.