Euro Moments: Gary Lineker subbed as Swedes beat Turnips
Graham Taylor hooks Lineker one goal short of England record as Three Lions crash out
Gary Lineker is subbed in his final international game as Sweden dump England out of Euro 1992. Photograph: Getty
In the half century which has passed since World Cup glory in 1966, England’s terrible run at major international tournaments has been well documented to say the least.
But of all the miserable and embarrassing exits, the Three Lions’ dismal showing at Euro 1992 in Sweden was one of the very worst.
Two years on from Gazza’s tears and heroic failure in the World Cup semi-finals Graham Taylor had taken over from Bobby Robson as manager, an appointment which left a lot of people uneasy given the lack of silverware on his CV.
And while Taylor led England on a run of one defeat in 21 games - the loss coming against Germany - they only just scraped their way through qualification for the Euros, drawing 1-1 with Ireland twice and needing a last gasp Gary Lineker goal against Poland to make it to the Championships.
Taylor used 59 players in the run-up to the Euros in a bid to find his strongest side, and a criticism levelled at him was his reluctance to use more creative players such as Chris Waddle due to their lack of workrate.
Taylor’s more direct style of football was in evidence in England’s opening group games as they failed to score against Denmark and France, both fixtures ending in stalemates.
And so it came down to the final group game, with England needing to beat hosts Sweden to qualify. David Platt gave England the lead after just four minutes, before Jan Eriksson levelled things early in the second half.
Then, with an hour gone, Taylor made a substitution. With England in desperate need of a goal he brought off the nation’s golden boy, Gary Lineker, who at the time was just a goal short of Bobby Charlton’s record of 49.
Lineker was less than pleased with the decision, refusing to acknowledge the bench as he trudged off.
Without Lineker England couldn’t find the goal they needed, and after 82 minutes Tomas Brolin sealed their group stage exit.
Not only did Taylor’s substitution signal the end of Lineker’s international career but it also inspired one of the greatest tabloid headlines of all time: Swedes 2 Turnips 1.