Football: England to win Euro 2016? No way

Football: England to win Euro 2016? No way
Manchester United legend Bryan Robson is in town as furniture giant Courts celebrates Singapore's milestone 50th birthday at the Courts Megastore.

There is an air of optimism in some quarters in England that the Three Lions can be serious contenders at next year's European Championship in France.

Four straight wins in Euro 2016 qualifying have placed England six points clear in Group E, and manager Roy Hodgson is hopeful youngsters Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling - touted as England's future - will lead the team to glory.

Former England captain Bryan Robson, however, is under no such illusion.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, the 58-year-old, who featured in three World Cups for England (1982, 1986, 1990), said any championship aspirations for 2016 were "unrealistic".

"Sure, we have a great chance of qualifying, but we won't win it," said Robson, who had 90 caps between 1980 and 1991, making him England's sixth most capped player of all-time.

"As far as I'm concerned, we've yet to come to a situation where we look as if we can win an international honour.

"You look at the Germans and the Spaniards, they always seem to be stronger and they have much more world-class players than we've got.

"A team need around six or seven world-class players to win, and right now we don't have that.

"That's why I just can't see us winning it. But, hopefully, I'm proved wrong."

Robson, who was United's longest serving captain and currently the ambassador for the club, is in town to kick off Courts Megastore's celebration of Singapore's 50th birthday.

The former Manchester United central midfielder, known for his all-round game and leadership qualities, captained his country 65 times, third-most after Bobby Moore and Billy Wright.


He was also well known for being in the record books for 20 years - thanks to a goal he scored after 27 seconds against France in England's opening game of the 1982 World Cup.

It was the fastest goal in World Cup Finals history until 2002, when Turkey's Hakan Sukur scored after 11 seconds in the third-placed play-off against cohosts South Korea.

Robson said that England's biggest problem is their lack of mental strength.

"What England always do well is qualify comfortably. But in the past three World Cups, they were well below par," he said.

"It begs the question - are the players prepared mentally for the big tournaments? The lads have to work on that.

"The expectations for England are always high, sometimes too high. But you can't use pressure as an excuse because Spain, Germany and Italy deal with the same pressure as well."

One of the well-known reasons for England's recent slide on the international front is the high number of foreign players in the Premiership.

Robson said that the presence of the foreign stars has enhanced the league, but restricted the number of English players from playing regularly, especially at the big clubs.

"It's mostly the forwards who struggle to get a game, though if an Englishman is good enough, like Wayne Rooney, you can still be a leading player," he said.

"I wouldn't change the rules or impose a foreign player restriction, though. That would be detrimental to the league."


Courts Megastore in Tampines will host a fans' meet-and-greet session with Bryan Robson today from 2pm.

Registration will begin at 1pm and the first 150 to register will get the chance to meet the legend himself, for an autograph and photo.

This article was first published on January 17, 2015.
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