Glenn Hoddle's England were drawn in Group G, alongside Tunisia, Romania and Colombia at France '98.
England opened with a solid win versus Tunisia (2-0) on the afternoon of Monday 15th June in Stade Vélodrome, the atmospheric home of Olympique de Marseille. Captain Alan Shearer headed England in front, from a Graeme Le Saux free kick in the 43rd minute. Michael Owen became the youngest England player in World Cup history, when he replaced Teddy Sheringham late on. Paul Scholes completed the victory with a fine curling shot in the last minute.
With David Beckham already on for the injured Paul Ince, and England a goal down to Romania in their second game in Stade Toulouse, Glenn Hoddle again replaced Teddy Sheringham with Michael Owen. Within minutes Owen had poached England's equaliser, and also become England's youngest ever goalscorer at a World Cup Finals Tournament, beating the record set by Jimmy Greaves in 1962. England looked set for a draw until Dan Petrescu out muscled Chelsea teammate Graeme Le Saux to steal the goal to win it (2-1) for Romania in the 90th minute.
Needing a draw in Stade Félix Bollaert in Lens to qualify for The Round of 16, England were two up versus Colombia inside 30 minutes, and never looked in trouble. Wearing the red England World Cup Finals Away Shirt, Darren Anderton opened the scoring with a brilliant volley in the 20th minute, and then David Beckham sent a trademark curling, swerving exocet of a free kick into the top corner (2-0). England finished second in the group though, and that meant that to reach the France '98 World Cup Final, they'd probably have to beat Argentina, then Netherlands, and then Brasil!
First up. Argentina on Thursday 30th June in St Étienne's Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. The home of 'Les Verts' was packed to the rafters, and the football didn't disappoint. In a breathtaking opening Batistuta put Argentina ahead from the spot. Shearer equalised from the spot. In the 16th minute Beckham's cute, clever pass had Michael Owen scampering away to score one of the most memorable of individual World Cup goals. Zanetti equalised for Argentina on the stroke of half time (2-2). Amazingly, there were no more goals, despite England being reduced to ten men after Beckham's 47th minute red card. A player short for virtually the whole of the second half, and extra time too, Glenn Hoddle's tactical mastery, and marshalling of formations meant that England weren't just trying to hang on. They were trying to win it, and they very nearly did but, an absolutely exceptional football match would be decided by a penalty shootout. Alan Shearer, Paul Merson, and Michael Owen all scored from the spot. Unfortunately Paul Ince and David Batty didn't (3-4). England were magnificent in St Étienne against Argentina. This England team was leaving the France '98 World Cup Finals disappointingly prematurely.
England 1998 World Cup Finals Squad:
1.David Seaman. 2.Sol Campbell. 3.Graeme Le Saux. 4.Paul Ince. 5.Tony Adams. 6.Gareth Southgate. 7.David Beckham. 8.David Batty. 9.Alan Shearer. 10.Teddy Sheringham. 11.Steve McManaman. 12.Gary Neville. 13.Nigel Martyn. 14.Darren Anderton. 15.Paul Merson. 16.Paul Scholes. 17.Rob Lee. 18.Martin Keown. 19.Les Ferdinand. 20.Michael Owen. 21.Rio Ferdinand. 22.Tim Flowers.