England and Croatia met in a friendly prior to Euro '96 on this day.
In the spring of 1996 England was preparing to host the biggest football tournament the country had seen for 30 years – the UEFA European Championship.
Having failed to qualify for the World Cup two years earlier, the Three Lions this time had the benefit of automatic inclusion to Euro ’96 thanks to their host status and as a result England Manager Terry Venables was busy keeping his squad in shape with several friendlies in the build-up to the tournament.
Having beaten Bulgaria 1-0 the previous month, England took on Croatia at Wembley on this day, in front of a relatively disappointing 33,650 crowd. Croatia – who had only gained membership to UEFA and FIFA in 1993 following their independence from Yugoslavia – would also be present at the Finals and were being touted as many people’s ‘dark horses’.
Fielding some of their country’s most recognised stars, including Davor Suker, Alen Boksic and the current national management team of Slaven Bilic and Robert Prosinecki, Croatia faced an England team that lined up like this: David Seaman, Gary Neville, Stuart Pearce, Paul Ince, Mark Wright, Steve McManaman, David Platt, Paul Gascoigne, Robbie Fowler, Teddy Sheringham and Steve Stone.
England controlled much of the game and had the best of the chances, with McManaman hitting a post and Stone, Sherringham and Fowler all having great opportunities. But despite the abundance of talent on show, neither side was able to break the deadlock and it finished 0-0.
Ironically, both teams would be knocked out of Euro ’96 by the same team – Germany.