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Wembley special: Stef's delight

Posted on 7 October 2000  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

Steffen Freund admits his two greatest memories have been at Wembley Stadium — and that is despite playing in a European Cup Final.

Our German midfield marauder has played at Wembley twice and won on both occasions.

The first was the European Championship semi-final for Germany against England in 1996 and the second was our Worthington Cup triumph in March 1999.

Freund describes the Euro96 encounter as the ‘biggest game in my life’.

He explained: “It was an unbelievable feeling to play at Wembley. It was the biggest game in my life and the best atmosphere in my life.

“In Euro96 we played in Manchester but in the back our minds was that we might play at Wembley in the semi-final. Then we beat Croatia in the quarter-finals to play at Wembley and this for everybody was a dream.

“Walking out at Wembley is a huge experience. You know the stadium, you know the tradition and then the atmosphere follows when you walk out. Your body is cold and warm, your skin starts to move and your knees start to shake.”

Freund’s heart must have skipped a beat in one of the memorable events of a famous golden goal extra time period.

He was on the line when Paul Gascoigne was a stud length away from scoring the winning goal. Freund recalled: “At this moment I knew that we would win the game, whether it was in extra time or on penalties.

“It was such a close game. Kuntz scored with a header and the referee didn’t give the goal, Darren Anderton hit the post for England - extra time was unbelievable. It was an amazing game, an amazing experience.”

Three years later — and having missed out on the Euro96 final through injury — Freund was back at Wembley in a midfield minefield against Leicester City.

He played a key role as we battled back from going down to 10 men to lift the trophy with Allan Nielsen’s last-minute header.

“The second time at Wembley was my final after my injury in Euro96,” he said. “Of course the Germany game was a semi-final and I came back with another final at Wembley. We won in the last minute, what a dream!”

Freund will be a spectator at when the last rites are played out on the hallowed turf in Saturday’s World Cup qualifying match against Germany.

He added: “England v Germany, this is the same as Brazil against Argentina and it is nearly a derby game. It is a dream for any footballer to be involved. This game is the perfect end for Wembley.”