Gary Stevens reflects on the European glory days of 1984 England Under-21s

The former Tottenham player recalls a famous victory against Spain as England’s current generation prepare for the team’s next continental campaign

Gary Stevens will always remember the atmosphere that greeted England’s Under-21 side on a balmy May evening at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium in Seville 33 years ago. “There had been a lot of noise outside the hotel the night before and, when we were getting off the coach, there was a lot of intimidation, with people throwing fruit at us,” he says. “When we ran out to warm up you could hear all the insults from the crowd because they were so close. They appeared to be doing their utmost to make life difficult for us.”

In the fourth edition of Uefa’s tournament that had replaced the under-23 competition in 1978, Dave Sexton’s side arrived in Seville for the first leg of their European Championship final against Spain aiming to retain the trophy they had won two years previously. Having defeated a West Germany side featuring Pierre Littbarski and Rudi Völler in 1982, a team comprised of largely new players had battled past Greece, Hungary and Denmark to reach the knockout stages before disposing of France 7-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals thanks to four goals from Portsmouth’s Mark Hateley and then squeezing past a Roberto Mancini-inspired Italy in the semis.

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