If one decade alone could provide a summary of the footballing relationship between Germany and England, it would be the 1990s. In the space of six years, the world witnessed some of the most dramatic moments in the long history of the fixture – with both games resulting in victories on penalties for Germany with England playing the role of the genuinely unlucky loser.
The first of these encounters in Turin in 1990 would be made famous not so much for Andy Brehme’s fluked free-kick, Gary Lineker’s dramatic 80th-minute equaliser or even both sides hitting the post in a frenetic thirty minutes of extra time, but England’s penalty misses and Paul Gascoigne’s tears. While the game itself provided few actual memorable moments, it was and will remain nothing less than pure footballing theatre. Right until that moment where Chris Waddle lazily lofted his penalty high into the Italian night sky, it was nail-biting stuff.
That famous night in Turin would be England’s last game against the team known as West Germany; the next encounter would be the following year at Wembley against an united German team, which would see former East German international Thomas Doll tee up Karlheinz Riedle to give the visitors a 1-0 win. There would be one goal in it in the next meeting as well, a 1993 encounter in Detroit’s impressive Pontiac Silverdome with Germany securing a 2-1 victory en route to winning the four-team US Cup tournament.
Wembley had become something of a happy hunting ground for the Mannschaft, and they ran out under the shadow of the famous twin towers once more for the semi-final of the 1996 European Championship against an England side high on confidence. After the goals had been exchanged in the first twenty minutes, not much happened until the referee signalled the start of extra-time when, just like in Turin six years earlier, the game suddenly burst into life. In spite of all the drama – a disallowed German golden goal, that man Gascoigne missing by a whisker – it was always destined to go to a penalty shootout. After the first ten penalties had successfully been converted, poor Gareth Southgate would join both Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle in the black book of England penalty takers, while Andreas Möller’s strutting celebration after smashing home the winning spot-kick would win him a place in the ever-increasing cast of German pantomime villians.
It was a decade in which Germany would truly be dominant – including the penalty shootout victories, they would win all four of the matches played between the two countries. There might well have been a fifth in 1994 – the friendly in Berlin that never was.
Torino 1990, FIFA World Cup Semi-Final
Wembley 1991, Friendly International
Detroit 1993, US Cup Mini-Tournament
Berlin 1994, Friendly International – Cancelled
Wembley 1996, UEFA European Championship Semi-Final