With the greatest of respect for Gareth Southgate and his side’s achievement in Russia this summer, the most exhilarating performance of England in the 21st Century remains their 5-1 thrashing of Germany 17 years ago. Dismantling England’s historic rivals in their own back yard was an unforgettable moment for the nation.
The chief tormentors on that night in Munich, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey, will be reunited for the Star Sixes competition in Glasgow, which kicks off at the SSE Hydro on Friday. After the success of the inaugural event in 2017, former legends from England, Scotland, Wales, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Rest of the World will compete in the second edition of the six-a-side competition.
Alan McInally, Brian McClair and Pete Colley preview the 2019 FansBet Star Sixes
Owen and Heskey form part of a strong-looking England side also containing goalkeeper David James, defenders Wayne Bridge, Wes Brown and Luke Young plus the craft of recently-retired Joe Cole and goalscoring of Darren Bent.
The Three Lions, who open their campaign against Wales in the second match of the tournament, are rated 3.25 favourites to win Star Sixes with Owen (6.0) and Heskey (8.0) also locked in a potential battle to be crowned golden boot winner.
The Rest of the World kick proceedings off against Northern Ireland on Friday evening at 19.00 and are the second-best priced team at 3.75. Robert Pires helped lead France to glory two years ago and is part of another formidable outfit containing Jay Jay Okocha, Gaizka Mendieta and Vitor Baia plus significant Old Firm interest.
From a Rangers perspective, striker Marco Negri will lead the line for the RoW supported by the left boot of Jorg Albertz and Ronald De Boer as Pierre van Hooijdonk and Stiliyan Petrov provide the Celtic representation.
Hosts Scotland, who play the Republic in their first match, will obviously be keen to put on a show and although are priced at 9.00 feature a number of players who have only recently hung up their boots so could have youth on their side.
One-time Rangers midfield lynchpin Barry Ferguson, whose last piece of professional action was in 2015, is joined by former team-mate Lee McCulloch (2016), ex-Everton forward James McFadden (2018) and Celtic’s Mark Burchill (2015) and Simon Donnelly (2013).
Behind them are the seasoned heads of Jackie McNamara, Don Hutchinson, Charlie Miller and goalkeeper Rab Douglas providing a nice blend of youth and experience.
In a similar youthful vein, equally-priced Wales (9.0) cannot be ignored with national team manager Ryan Giggs the headline name alongside Craig Bellamy, Dean Saunders, Robert Earnshaw, David Cotterill, Jack Collison, Jermaine Easter, Danny Gabbidon and Owain Tudur Jones.
During the 90s and early 2000s pomp on the international stage, the Republic of Ireland were often considered dark horses whenever they qualified for the major tournament at the same can be true of the Star Sixes where they are the best-priced team outside the top two at 6.0.
Led by former Liverpool and Ireland folk hero Jason McAteer, the Republic should have plenty of goalscoring punch in Niall Quinn, John Aldridge and Owen Coyle plus ex-Leeds dead-ball specialist Ian Harte supported by Phil Babb, Liam Lawrence, Richie Partridge, Lee Carsley and Tim Dittmer.
Rounding off the field are neighbours Northern Ireland (9.0) who open proceeding against the fancied Rest of the World and at least one member of their rank who should receive a warm reception from the gathered Glasgow faithful.
Paddy McCourt defined the concept of “mercurial talent” during his five years at Parkhead and the winger brings his silky dribbling back to the city in a squad also containing former Rangers midfielders Stephen Hughes and Dean Shiels, Motherwell’s Stephen Craigan, Tony Capaldi, Keith Gillespie, Michael Hughes, Steve Jones, Andy Kirk and Colin Murdock.
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