How England prepared for 2001's memorable trip to Germany

Find out how England were shaping up for their 2001 trip to face Germany in a World Cup qualifier, which you can watch in our latest ReLions broadcast – brought to you by our lead partner, BT.

Wednesday 08 Apr 2020
Sven-Goran Eriksson and his assistant, Tord Grip, on the touchline ahead of kick-off at Munich's Olympiastadion

It's remembered as one of England's greatest-ever and most-comprehensive results – which makes it easy to forget how high the stakes were going into 2001's trip to Germany.

It was September and Sven-Goran Eriksson had been in post for under a year, having taken over from Kevin Keegan following the former England international's departure the previous autumn.

Keegan's resignation had been preceded – by a matter of minutes – by a 1-0 defeat to Germany in the last game played at the old Wembley Stadium. A few days later, the Three Lions were led by caretaker boss Howard Wilkinson to a goalless draw in Finland.

Keegan leaves the field after what would be his last game as England's manager


Those results meant England went into Christmas second-bottom of their group and, with only one automatic qualification place up for grabs, already contemplating the possibility of missing out on the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Home and away victories over Finland sandwiched a win in Albania and boosted hopes of qualification, though the Three Lions approached still September's game in Munich six points behind their hosts, albeit with a game in hand. Nevertheless, a German win would guarantee them top spot and consign England to a play-off spot at best. A draw would virtually secure their ticket to the far east.

Eriksson named a 25-man squad for the game, but had doubts over captain David Beckham after he limped out of Manchester United's game on the afternoon of the announcement.

"The Germany game is, of course, an extremely tough test for the players but we are looking forward to the challenge," said the Swede, who also had a home game against Albania to think about, a few days after the match in Munich.

"It may be a hard task but it is certainly not an impossible one. We will not be changing our style because we are strong and have confidence in our own ability.

"Everyone knows how important this match is for England but we must not forget the Germans will also be under pressure to perform well at home.

"If we want to win the group, we must win the game in Munich. It is as clear-cut as that.

"If we can't beat Germany, a draw would give us one more point and an even stronger chance of finishing runners-up."

How England's group shaped up going into the game against Germany

If Eriksson's words carried an undertone of realism, those of opposite number Rudi Voller were unapologetically confident. As well as announcing his squad for the game, he confirmed that Germany would play friendlies in Thailand and South Korea in November – when UEFA had scheduled the qualification play-offs for.

"I expect us to go through directly," said Voller at the time.

"If England go through to the play-offs I will keep my fingers crossed. AWorld Cup without either England or Germany is not a fully-fledged World Cup."

England squad: Nick Barmby (Liverpool), David Beckham (Manchester United), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Michael Carrick (West Ham United), Andy Cole (Manchester United), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), Rio Ferdinand (Leeds United), Robbie Fowler (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Emile Heskey (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Nigel Martyn (Leeds United), Steve McManaman (Real Madrid), Danny Mills (Leeds United), Danny Murphy (Liverpool), Gary Neville (Manchester United), Philip Neville (Manchester United), Michael Owen (Liverpool), Paul Scholes (Manchester United), David Seaman (Arsenal), Gareth Southgate (Middlesbrough), Richard Wright (Arsenal)

You can watch the ReLions broadcast of Germany vs England, connected by BT, via our official YouTube channel at 8pm on Thursday 8 April:

By Jim Lucas