Euro Moments: Uri Gellar moves the ball to help England sink Scotland

1996 hosts had a secret weapon up their sleeves when Scotland visited Wembley

Euro 1996: Scotland 0 England 2

June 15th, 1996

The 1996 European Championships ended in predictable hearbreak for England but for a while things were looking good the the host nation.

Not only did they have a home advantage and the support of an entire nation who had become gripped by the fortunes of their football team, but they were blessed with a squad in which two generations overlapped neatly with the promising likes of Gary Neville and Steve McManaman combining with elder statesmen such as the mercurial Paul Gascoigne and Paul Ince.


But England also had another trick up their sleeve, so to speak, because the Israeli-born serial spoon-bender Uri Gellar had started following his adopted football team and was using every last bit of magic in his body to try and help Terry Venables’ side to glory.

And so when England took to the pitch at Wembley for their group game against the Auld Enemy Scotland they had a secret weapon at their disposal in the form of Gellar hovering above the old ground’s Twin Towers in a helicopter.

The hosts had taken a 1-0 lead thanks to Alan Shearer's header but were on the ropes when Tony Adams brought Gordon 'Jukebox' Durie down in the area and the Scots were awarded a penalty.

Step forward Gary McAllister, Leeds United’s Coventry City-bound set-piece specialist. He makes a good connection but the kick is at a saveable height and David Seaman guesses the right way, parrying the ball over the bar.

So, nothing too out of the ordinary - people miss penalties. But then replays showed the ball had actually moved slightly on the spot just as McCallister went to strike it.

There were a number of entirely plausible and rational reasons as to why this might have happened. But, of course, credit went to our man Uri, who was still hovering away above the ground.

Gellar said subsequently it was he who caused the ball to move, willing it away from up in the clouds and setting up England’s 2-0 win over their bitter rivals.

Whether you want to believe that or not, well, that’s entirely up to you.

Patrick Madden

Patrick Madden

Patrick Madden is a former sports journalist with The Irish Times