Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tournaments-Part 9 – Umbro Cup (1995)

England were due to host the UEFA European Championships in the summer of 1996, and as is now tradition, they hosted a mini-Tournament a year before the main event in the summer of 1995.
The English National Team had been in the doldrums following elimination from qualifying for the 1994 World Cup under Graham Taylor.
Following Taylor’s resignation, the English FA appointed Terry Venables as the man to lead England in the Euros. As was often the case, host Nations were normally restricted to friendly matches for about two years before a Tournament. Naturally, Venables looked upon this Tournament (named Umbro Cup) as the only chance to test out his players in a ‘competitive’ setting with a year to go.

Photo From: World Soccer, July 1995
(Umbro Cup)

Venables was also looking forward to see in action his controversial star Paul Gascoigne, who had just returned to fitness after a year out through injury. Gascoigne’s renewal was exemplified with his new bleach blonde hairdo and transfer back to British Football (Rangers Glasgow).
However, England’s highest rated players were striker Alan Shearer, who had just led Blackburn Rovers to the English Premier League title, along with David Platt.
Venables had to contend with many injuries going into the Tournament.
Starting goalkeeper David Seaman was out injured, along with clubmates Tony Adams and Lee Dixon. Others to miss through injury were Rob Jones, Neil Ruddock Steve Howey, Tim Sherwood, Dennis Wise and Barry Venison.
Striker Andy Cole would bow out as well just before the start of the ‘Umbro Cup.
Manchester United (and soon Internazionale Milano) Midfielder Paul Ince asked to be relieved of duty for the Tournament as he was sorting out legal matters stemming from teammate Eric Cantona’s ‘Kung-Fu’ incident from the past January (assault charges of his own that he was eventually acquitted of).
The defections forced Venables to include some newcomers such as Everton defender David Unsworth (to replace Adams) and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp (to replace Ince).
The marquee opponents of this ‘Umbro Cup’ were Brazil who just a summer earlier had triumphed in the World Cup in USA. They were now led (once again) with veteran Manager Mario Zagallo. His brief was simple: prepare a team for that summer’s Copa America (just weeks after the Umbro Cup), the 1996 Olympics and the 1998 World Cup (in the long term).
Zagallo would call upon many veterans such as Captain Carlos Dunga, Jorginho, Zinho and Aldair among others. Brazil’s World Cup striking duo of Romario and Bebeto were missing for Brazil. In Bebeto’s case, he was retained by his Spanish Club Deportivo La Coruna, as the Spanish la Liga was still ongoing.
For his options upfront, Zagallo included many youngsters to plan for the future.
These included PSV Eindhoven’s 18-year-old striker Ronaldo. At this point he was a bright prospect for the future and about over a year away from becoming ‘O Fenoneno’.
Another novelty was appointing a short and light midfielder, Juninho, for the playmaking duties.
The likes of Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Edmundo had a number of caps under their belt in the preceding years, but were now seen as ready to make their mark in this new Brazil.

The third opponents were from Europe. Sweden had delighted the World by finishing third in the previous year’s World Cup with the likes of captain Jonas Thern and the trio of Tomas Brolin, Martin Dahlin and Kennet Andersson presenting a potent strike force.
However, since the World Cup, Sweden’s form had stagnated and they had more or les been eliminated from the Euro qualifiers.
Sweden were missing Tomas Brolin (It was also reported that Parma had retained him for the still ongoing Coppa Italia Final). In any case,  he had only just returned to duty after suffering a serious injury (earlier in the season) that would derail the rest of his career.
Key midfielder Stefan Schwarz also withdrew after an exhaustive season with Arsenal.
Sweden Manager Tommy Svensson would include many of his regulars (Thomas Ravelli, Bjorklund, Dahlin, Ljung, Thern, Kennet Andersson).
He also included many young and inexperienced players to experiment and rebuild.
The fourth and last opponents in this Tournament were Asian contenders Japan. Japan had ambitions to excel in the game and their new Professional League, the J-League, had been launched two years prior. The League drew comparisons with NASL of the 70s as it attracted many European and South American stars in their pre-retirement phase. However, the League also attracted many players still in their prime, which included many of the current Brazilian squad such as Jorginho, Leonardo, Cesar Sampaio, Gilmar, Ronaldao, as well as Dunga (in the coming months).
The Japanese were led by Kazu Miura, who had just spent his first season in the Italian Serie A (though unfortunately relegated with Genoa). The Japanese looked upon this Tournament as an education and a launching pad to future projects (1998 World Cup and ultimately hosting the 2002 World Cup).

The ‘Umbro Cup’ kicked off on June 3rd with hosts England taking on Japan at Wembley in front of an uncharacteristically low crowd.
On paper this should have been a mismatch and an easy win for England against a Japanese side appearing for the first time ever at Wembley.
But at the time England had a difficulty in scoring goals and this match confirmed England’s continuing woes.
Venables did not risk Gascoigne from the start and started with four International debutants (Scales, Neville, Unsworth and Collymore). The English squad played without much flair and lacked cohesion.
Early in the second half, Anderton gave England the lead with a shot from outside of the box. Ihara tied up the score for the Japanese from a corner.

Photo From: The Game, Issue 5, August 1995
(Paul Gascoigne, June 3, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 2-Japan 1)

Photo From: World Soccer, July 1995
(Ihara celebrating, June 3, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 2-Japan 1)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2566, June 13, 1995
(Paul Gascoigne, June 3, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 2-Japan 1)

Japan dominated England at times and gave a fair account of themselves.
Just before the end, England were awarded a penalty kick after Japan’s Captain Hashiratani handled in the box to stop John Scales’ shot (he was sent off as it was deliberate to stop a goal). David Platt scored from the spot to give England a win (2-1). England’s performance was criticized, though Venables stressed the importance of winning, especially given the fact that there were 4 debutants for England.

Photo From: World Soccer, July 1995
(David Platt scoring from the spot, June 3, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 2-Japan 1)

Photo From: World Soccer, July 1995
(England players leaving the field, June 3, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 2-Japan 1)

In the next match on June 4th, Brazil took on Sweden at Birmingham. The sides had met twice in the previous year’s World Cup, but both sides were remodeled now.
Brazil started with only four of the World Cup winners: Dunga, Jorginho, Aldair and Zinho. Sweden started without starting goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli, as Bengt Andersson was given a rare start.
Brazil midfielder Juninho stood out in a match where Brazil were rarely troubled and dominated. Edmundo scored Brazil’s winner early in the second half and Brazil held on. They nearly scored a second as Ronaldo’s header struck the post with six minutes remaining.

Photo From: The Game, Issue 6, September 1995
(Juninho Paulista, June 4, 1995, Umbro Cup, Brazil 1-Sweden 0)

Photo From: World Soccer, August 1995
(Juninho Paulista and Edmundo, June 4, 1995, Umbro Cup, Brazil 1-Sweden 0)

One of Sweden’s heroes from the World Cup, Martin Dahlin was booked after a brutal foul on Cesar Sampaio (who had to be substituted). Many felt, Dahlin himself was immediately substituted off as well, to either avoid a red card and/or retaliation from the other Brazilian players.

Photo From: World Soccer, April 1996
(Martin Dahlin and Aldair, June 4, 1995, Umbro Cup, Brazil 1-Sweden 0)

Brazil Manager Zagallo stated, “We have come here to prepare for the Copa America that we want to win. Whether it is against Sweden, Japan or England we will play to our maximum…we have to justify our title and I do not know of anything better than to win to maintain our confidence”.

Brazil followed up this win by defeating Japan (3-0) on June 6th at Liverpool’s Goodison Park.
Brazil’s with its large Japanese based contingent was once again dominant against an inexperienced opposition.
Brazil’s made two changes from the previous match. The first was the introduction of another World Cup winner, Marcio Santos in defense in place of Ronaldao.
Doriva also started in midfield in place of Cesar Sampaio.
Once again Brazil won comfortably with Juninho, Roberto Carlos among the standouts.
Roberto Carlos gave Brazil the lead in the sixth minute by taking a trademark low hard shot after taking advantage of a defensive miscue.
The continent would see more of Roberto Carlos’ hard shots into the next decade.
Juninho would strike the post with a free kick and later Edmundo would also strike the post with his effort.
Zinho would strike twice to give Brazil a (3-0) win. The first one was an impressive volley from outside of the box.

Photo From: World Soccer, July 1995
(Zinho, June 6, 1995, Umbro Cup, Brazil 3-Japan 0)

1994 World Cup winner Leonardo would replace Juninho in the 60th minute and future Ballon d’Or winner Rivaldo would replace double goalscorer Zinho in the 72nd minute.
After the match Zagallo made a statement about the team’s more open style of play by comparing with 1994 team. He said in USA Brazil played the football they had to play while now they are playing the football they want to play.

For their second match on June 8th, England took on Sweden at Leeds’ Elland Road, away from their hallowed turf of Wembley.
This was England’s first home match away from Wembley since 1973.
Venables made some changes from the previous match. Venables changed the entire defense. Graeme Le Saux, Warren Barton, Gary Pallister and Colin Cooper replaced Neville, Unsworth, Scales and Pearce.
In addition, John Barnes and Teddy Sheringham started in place of David Batty and Stan Collymore. Once again, Gascoigne did not start, though he would once again come on in the second half.
Sweden goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli started and captained in his record breaking 126th cap (overtaking Peter Shilton).
Sweden’s other change in defense from the previous match was the introduction of Gray Sundgren in place of Roger Ljung.
Niklas Gudmundsson and Henrik Larsson also started in place of Jonas Thern and Martin Dahlin.
England were out of sorts once again and Sweden took advantage by taking a (2-0) lead through a double by Hakan Mild.
Just before halftime, Teddy Sheringham pulled one goal back for England after a lucky bounce fell on his lap.
Just after the restart the match appeared sealed as Sweden scored its third (3-1) after Kennet Andersson lobbed the ball over Flowers.
Midway through the half, Venables gambled by making a double substitution. Paul Gascoigne and Nick Barmby were sent on for Beardsley and Barnes in the 63rd minute.
England pulled a remarkable comeback in the closing minutes. Platt pulled a goal back with a minute to go. In the last minute, Darren Anderton leveled the score (3-3) after a remarkable buildup involving from one end to the other culminating with Anderton’s shot hitting both posts before going in.
Anderton’s goal and its build-up is often ranked as one of England’s best ever goals in History.

Photo From: Goal, Issue 5, February 1996
(Darren Anderton, June 8, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 3-Sweden 3)

Sweden’s Erlingmark broke his nose after a challenge with Gascoigne and would miss Sweden’s last match with Japan. Though Gascoigne claimed it was accidental, Sweden Manager Tommy Svensson expressed his anger over the incident by saying such incidents have ‘no place’in Football.
Both managers expressed satisfaction though it was reported Svensson was clearly more distraught after giving two goals away in the end.
This was the most entertaining match of the Tournament and gave England some hope (despite not winning). However, their defensive frailties were noticeable as they conceded three goals at home for the first time since losing to West Germany (1-3) in 1972.
With neither team anything to play for; Sweden and Japan concluded their participation in the Tournament on June 10th at Nottingham.
For Sweden, double goalscorer Hakan Mild and the unfortunate Erlingmark were replaced in the squad by Ola Andersson and Peter Wibrån.
Sweden seemed disinterested and perhaps looked forward to much needed holidays.
Japan would take the lead early (9th minute) through Fujita.
In the second half, Sweden would get back in the game. Kennet Andersson would pull a goal back in the 53rd minute through an indirect free kick. He would score Sweden’s second and his Tournament best third goal in the 69th minute.
Japan tied the match with a few minutes remaining through Kurosaki.

Photo From: World Soccer, November 1995
(Pontus Kamark, June 10, 1995, Umbro Cup, Sweden 2-Japan 2)

The stage was set for the main event with England hosting Brazil at Wembley on June 11th with Pele in the audience.
Brazil had the advantage, as a draw would have sufficed while England had to win.
For Brazil, Cesar Sampaio reclaimed his spot in midfield replacing Doriva. The rest of the squad was unchanged from the match vs. Japan.
Venables made further modifications as he failed on a settled squad. Neville, Pearce and Scales were brought back in defense with only Colin Cooper retaining his place in defense from the Sweden match.
Graeme Le Saux was moved into the midfield. Barnes and Beardsley were also out with David Batty starting.
England started better and had more possession in the early going.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2567, June 20, 1995
(Ronaldo, June 11, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 1-Brazil 3)

Just before halftime (38th minute), England took the lead with a long distance shot from Le Saux.
Brazil stormed back in the second half. Juninho, the revelation of the Tournament, tied the match with a free kick in the 54th minute.
Minutes later in the 61st minute, Juninho would put Ronaldo through and the latter would double the lead.

Photo From: World Soccer, July 1995
(Jorginho and Ronaldo celebrating his goal, June 11, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 1-Brazil 3)

Edmundo confirmed Brazil’s domination with a third goal with less than a quarter hour left.
For England, David Batty was particularly unimpressive and was replaced by Gascoigne in the 73rd minute. Batty had been out injured for most of the season and had recently returned to action and was probably not fully fit.

Photo From: World Soccer, August 1995
(David Batty and Ronaldo, June 11, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 1-Brazil 3)

This was Venables’ first ever defeat as England Manager.
It was clear that he had his work cut out to prepare a team for the following year. The unavailabilities of Seaman, Adams and Ince unbalanced his side.
Venables could look forward to their return and Gascoigne’s return to full fitness.
Zagallo’s new look Brazil took all the plaudits and had impressed observers especially the new guard.
Roberto Carlos made his way to Europe and was signed by Internazionale Milano that summer.
Ronaldo and Edmundo had also proven to be able deputies for Romario and Bebeto and it seemed only a matter of time before Edmundo would be in Europe as well.
However, this would be Juninho’s Tournament and he would be hailed as Brazil’s future star in the making.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2567, June 20, 1995
(Carlos Dunga holding the Umbro Cup trophy, June 11, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 1-Brazil 3)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2567, June 20, 1995
(Jorginho, Juninho Paulista and Ronaldo, June 11, 1995, Umbro Cup, England 1-Brazil 3)

His displays paved a way for a transfer to Europe. Middlesbrough Manager Bryan Robson was impressed and signed him for the following season.
It had been said that in one of Brazil’s friendlies in May 1995 (vs. Israel), Dunga had expressed reservations and questioned Zagallo about Juninho being handed the playmaking duties.
However, after the match he had been so impressed that in the dressing room, he got on his knees and apologized for ever doubting him.

1-Brazil as winners, earned £500,000 from Tournament sponsors Umbro. England received £250,0000, Sweden (£133,000) and Japan (£66,000).

France Football, Issue 2565, June 6, 1995
France Football, Issue 2566, June 13, 1995
France Football, Issue 2567, June 20, 1995
Seleccao Brasileira -90 Anos 1914-2004, Authors Antonio Carlos Napoleao, Roberto Assaf
World Soccer, July 1995
World Soccer, August 1995
Don Balon, Issue 1027, June 19-25, 1995

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