England head into their Euro 2020 quarter-final with Ukraine on Saturday with their sights firmly set on the semi-finals — a stark contrast to their prospects when they were last in the same position.
Ironically, it was just over nine years ago that The Three Lions were in Ukraine’s Olympic Stadium in Kyiv in the last-eight at Euro 2012 when they faced Italy. On Saturday, the venues and opposition are reversed, as they travel to Rome to face Ukraine.
On that day, Roy Hodgson’s side were firmly up against it. Without key figures such as Frank Lampard, they struggled to keep the ball and found themselves on the edge of their own box for large swathes of the game.
Despite the Italians’ dominance, with Andrea Pirlo starring throughout, they could not find a way past England’s stubborn backline and the tie went to a penalty shootout.
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Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney both dispatched their penalties before Ricardo Montolivo saw his effort stopped by Joe Hart.
Pirlo’s beautifully-crafted panenka when the Azzurri were 2-1 down showed incredible belief and nonchalance in equal measure, but consecutive misses from the two Ashleys, Cole and Young, put Italy in the driving seat.
Antonio Nocerino and Alessandro Diamanti did not fail to deliver and Italy sealed their spot in the semi-finals against Germany. England, meanwhile, could have no complaints after being outclassed for much of the evening.
So, where are the England’s stars from that quarter-final in Kyiv now?
GK: Joe Hart
With 75 caps for England, Hart is tied with David Seaman and only Peter Shilton (125) has more appearances for their country as a goalkeeper.
But with every goalkeeper, there comes a time where their wits and reactions are no longer as sharp. Hart’s confidence nosedived at Manchester City when Claudio Bravo was brought in and his stock fell at an alarming rate.
Spells on loan at Torino and West Ham followed before heading to Burnley for two seasons in a £3million deal. In 2019, he lost his place in the England squad due to the growing number of options for Southgate to choose from.
RB: Glen Johnson
But for Johnson, Euro 2012 arrived during his peak years and when he entered his 30s, he lost the pace and energy that made him one of the Premier League’s most consistent full-backs.
He spent three seasons at Stoke City before hanging up his boots in 2018 and the 36-year-old is often seen commentating on Sky Sports as a pundit.
CB: John Terry
The Chelsea legend’s participation at Euro 2012 was shrouded in controversy, particularly as Terry had been preferred over Rio Ferdinand for Hodgson’s final squad.
Despite the ongoing proceedings relating to his FA charge of racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother, Anton, Terry was selected for the international tournament and took part in every game.
His presence on the pitch was commanding and without the experienced centre-back, England may have struggled to make it to a penalty shootout against Italy.
He would go on to win another Premier League title with Chelsea before leaving the club in 2014-15. After spending a season with Aston Villa, he took up a role as assistant manager to Dean Smith and has recently received his UEFA Pro Licence.
CB: Joleon Lescott
On the back of helping Manchester City win their first Premier League title in 2011-12, Lescott was in fine form and ahead on merit of a host of other defenders to partner Terry.
It was his header that opened the scoring in the 1-1 draw against France in their Group D opener and he played in all four Euro 2012 matches.
At the time of the tournament, Lescott was 29 and injuries played a part in his demise, moving to West Brom, Aston Villa, AEK Athens and finally Sunderland before retiring in 2017 at the age of 34.
Like Johnson, he now works as a pundit and has a regular spot on Sky Sports’ football coverage.
LB: Ashley Cole
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Arguably the best left-back of his generation, Cole was on a high after helping Chelsea win their first Champions League in 2011-12.
He was selected ahead of Leighton Baines for all four matches as Hodgson rarely strayed from choosing his favoured personnel in his 4-3-3 setup.
Cole was one of the older members of the squad at the age of 31 and in 2014, he left Chelsea on a free transfer to join Roma, before heading to LA Galaxy and finally Derby.
These days he is a youth coach for the Blues’ Under-15 team but also makes an occasional appearance as a pundit for Sky Sports.
CM: James Milner
Milner turns 36 on his next birthday but the midfielder has shown no signs of slowing down or retirement even.
The evergreen utility man has been deployed in all kinds of positions since joining Liverpool on a free transfer in 2015.
After 250 appearances for the Reds, he is their vice-captain and remains an important figure in the dressing room, even if he only plays a bit-part role for Jurgen Klopp’s side now.
CM: Steven Gerrard
England’s main man after Lampard was ruled out with injury, captain Gerrard scored from the spot in this penalty shootout but could not save his side from bowing out of the tournament.
The Liverpool legend suffered the heartbreak of their Premier League title collapse in 2013-14 and retired the following season after 710 appearances for the Merseyside club.
His move to MLS outfit LA Galaxy for the final years of his career brought an end to his international career too after collecting 114 caps, with 21 goals for his country.
His management career is growing more promising with every season after guiding Rangers to an unbeaten season and their first Premiership title since 2010-11, suggesting he could be a potential England manager in the future.
CM: Scott Parker
The former Tottenham and West Ham midfielder was regarded as a key component for England due to his work rate and composure on the ball.
He was part of the ‘over-30s’ group of players, however, and decided to end his career with Fulham in 2017.
After taking over as the Cottagers’ manager in 2019, he decided to leave his post after two years in the job to take the reins at Bournemouth in the Championship.
RW: Ashley Young
One of the few players from the Euro 2012 squad still playing, Young is approaching the end of his career and things have changed since he featured in England’s front three.
He spent nine years with Manchester United before leaving for Inter Milan in 2020 and won the Serie A last season before his release, playing predominantly as a wing-back.
Despite turning 36 next month, Young still has plenty of life left in him and he recently secured a move back to the Premier League after rejoining Aston Villa on a one-year deal.
ST: Wayne Rooney
One of England’s greatest-ever strikers, Euro 2012 was one of the tournaments where Rooney struggled to impress, only managing to score once.
Having spent his peak years as a striker with Manchester United, he rejoined boyhood club Everton in 2016-17 before heading to the USA with DC United.
He retired from international football in 2018 after 120 caps and 53 goals, reserving his status as England’s all-time record goalscorer, and headed back to England for one final hurrah with Derby County.
That move saw Rooney eventually move into management and the 35-year-old helped The Rams steer clear of relegation from the Championship on the final day last season.
LW: Danny Welbeck
At the age of 21, Welbeck was the youngest starter for Hodgson in his lineup against Italy and like Rooney, he only scored once at the tournament.
Injury problems robbed the talented forward of the best years of his career with Manchester United and then Arsenal.
The 30-year-old scored six goals in the Premier League last season and was mentioned as a possible option for Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad, but he was not included on the 26-man squad list.