Euro Moments: Gazza sinks the Scots before a trip to the dentist
One of the tournament’s best ever goals gets an equally iconic celebration at Euro ‘96
Paul Gascoigne’s iconic dentist’s chair celebration. Photograph: Getty
Euro 1996: Scotland 0 England 2
June 15th, 1996
There will be scores of players and supporters at this year’s European Championships, born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, for whom Euro 1996 - now staggeringly 20 years ago - provided their earliest football memories.
It was the first major international tournament held in England since the 1966 World Cup and it marked a serious shift in football as it moved out of the notorious 1980s and became a consumer product accessible for all cross-sections of society.
But as the game opened up for the masses and became increasingly gentrified - whether this was a good thing or not is up for debate - one group of players were still refusing to move with the times and were keeping an old tradition alive.
Football was coming home but prior to the tournament the England squad were in Hong Kong doing what they did best after a string of rather forgettable warm-up matches in Beijing - boozing.
What went on in Hong Kong would not happen in the 21st Century, especially with the advent of camera phones and social media, but while many of the gory details of what happened while England were out on the tiles will never be revealed, pictures of Paul Gascoigne made their way back to the English media and caused a storm.
Gazza, and partner in crime Teddy Sheringham, had been snapped getting heavily anaesthetised in the ‘Dentist’s Chair’, with Liverpool’s Spice Boys chucking spirits down their throats, and a public rinsing followed.
By this stage of his career Gascoigne’s vices had really started to take hold and he was plying his trade north of the border for Rangers, but weeks after the dentist’s chair he produced one of his defining moments against Scotland.
England were 1-0 against the Scots at Wembley in their second group game but were on the ropes when Gary McAllister stepped up to take a penalty. There was a reprieve as David Seaman saved it and England broke.
The ball comes to Gazza on the edge and with his back to goal he drops a shoulder and scoops it over the covering Colin Hendry, before burying it in the bottom corner with the sweetest of volleys.
It was a moment of enduring genius, but he then produced a celebration which lives on in the memory as long as the goal itself, lying by the posts on his very own Wembley dentist’s chair as his team mates squirt from a bottle into his mouth.
Not only was it one of the best goals scored at the Championships, but it perfectly encapsulated the genius, and fallibility, of Paul Gascoigne.