After just about squeaking through the group stages at Italia ’90, England came up against Belgium in the last 16.
On a stifling night in Bologna, Enzo Scifo hit the woodwork twice and John Barnes saw a goal chalked off (wrongly, as it happens) before the game eventually crept over into extra-time with the score still goalless.
Having come on as a 71st-minute substitute for the knackered Steve McMahon, David Platt then repaid Bobby Robson’s faith tenfold when, in the 119th minute of the gruelling encounter, the Aston Villa midfielder weighed in with his very first international goal – and what a pearler it was too!
After darting beyond the Belgian back line, Platt swivelled to connect sweetly with a Paul Gascoigne free-kick and hook an absolutely beautiful blind volley back across Michel Preud’homme and inside the far post.
Platt later explained that his sumptuous technique was a direct result of the muscle memory he had built up through simple repetition.
After training at Aston Villa, I would take some balls on to the pitch and try spectacular volleys and overhead kicks.
They were habit-forming and in that game, it was natural for me to attempt that volley.
Not that it looked any less glorious for it…
Pure mana from heaven.
Platt’s volley sent England through to the quarter-finals where they beat Cameroon 3-2, again after extra-time.
They then played Germany in the semis and, in all honesty, Pies’ memory gets a bit hazy after that.
(A version of this post first appeared on Pies in May 2014)