Euro 2016 - first game 'massive' - Anderton
10 June 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Darren Anderton has stood in the same boots as our five England players ready to kick-off Euro 2016.
Dele Alli , Eric Dier, Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are all widely tipped to start England's Euro 2016 opener against Russia in Marseille tomorrow night (8pm UK), a first major tournament experience for all five.
Turn the clock back 20 years and Darren stepped out for the first match of Euro 96 against Switzerland at Wembley. It was his first game in a major tournament and 12th cap in a summer to remember, even though England were held to a 1-1 draw that day.
Two years later, Darren was there again, this time as England kicked-off the 1998 World Cup against Tunisia - also in Marseille's Stade Velodrome. That was cap number 19 and he went on to score in the third group game against Columbia before England went out on penalties to Argentina.
Suffice to say Darren, who made 358 appearances for us between 1992-2004, knows a thing or two about the importance of an opening fixture in a major tournament.
"Tournament football is completely different in terms of pressure and it’s massively important to get off to a good start," said the midfielder who won 30 caps, scoring seven goals. "That gives you the confidence to go forward in a tournament.
Below: England celebrations after Darren scored against Columbia in the 1998 World Cup
"It was difficult after we struggled in our first game of Euro 96 against Switzerland and waiting for the next game to come around whereas in 1998, we beat Tunisia in the first game of the World Cup and you just think ‘yep, we’re flying here’ and confidence grows.
"So yes, the first game is huge. Russia have had a few injuries as well and I believe it’s a real opportunity to go out there and get straight on the front foot."
Darren was one of four legends to give their views to us on Euro 2016 - read what he had to say here...