The Three Lions took on Turkey on this day in 2003.
England’s qualifying campaign for Euro 2004 continued its country-wide tour when they took on Turkey at the Stadium of Light on 2 April 2003.
This was the mid-way point of the campaign – being the fourth qualifier for both teams – and it was 2002 World Cup semi-finalists Turkey who were already making the running in Group 7, with three wins out of three.
For England, having dropped points against Macedonia in a previous outing, the stakes were suitably high and victory was a must if their campaign was to gather pace.
Carrying weighty expectations, England Manager Sven Goran Eriksson experimented with a new diamond formation that involved the Manchester United trio of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, alongside Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard. There was also a surprise first full appearance for Everton’s Wayne Rooney, who partnered Michael Owen up front.
They were experiments that would produce positive results, albeit not immediate.
Despite a whirlwind start, it took until the 75th minute for England to breach the Turkey defence, with the goal coming from second half substitute Darius Vassell. The Aston Villa man, on for Owen, was on hand to turn in a close range header by Rio Ferdinand and England nerves were finally settled.
Victory for the Three Lions was settled with an injury time penalty converted by Beckham, and England’s European qualifying campaign was back on track.