Martin Dowey’s weekly column: Could England spring a surprise at the Euros?

GREAT DAYS ... Shearer scores past Germany at Euro 96

GREAT DAYS ... Shearer scores past Germany at Euro 96

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WE have been blessed this year by one of those summers when football runs right the way through.

The season came to a conclusion late on Saturday evening when Chelsea edged out the Germans on penalties in the Champions League final.

ALTERNATIVE CROP England Footballer Wayne Rooney leaves the terminal building at Luton Airport, Bedfordshire. The footballer will head to Switzerland with the England team amid lurid allegations about his private life.

ALTERNATIVE CROP England Footballer Wayne Rooney leaves the terminal building at Luton Airport, Bedfordshire. The footballer will head to Switzerland with the England team amid lurid allegations about his private life.

Now more good news is the fact that we have just a couple of weeks to wait for the European Championships to kick off.

I noticed the other day that the England shirts are starting to creep their way out onto the streets, the flags, car stickers and everything else will follow soon as things raise into a crescendo.

You always go into these tournaments firstly wanting the English to win it and then secondly wanting the Germans to lose every game.

The problem is you are always disappointed on both fronts.

The closest England has come was when our country hosted the thing in 1996, but the usual concoction of penalties, a lack of bottle and Germany put paid to our hopes.

That was the only time for me that the tournament made decent viewing.

It was four years after Graham Taylor’s nightmare in Sweden when he made the decision to sub one of the country’s best-ever strikers in Gary Lineker to bring on Alan Smith.

Then prior to that in 1988 we saw England losing out in all three group games, starting with a defeat by the Irish, when Ray Houghton headed his effort into the back of Peter Shilton’s net.

By 1996 England had found Alan Shearer, who even now is second to Michel Platini on the tournament’s all-time top scorer list.

At the moment I can’t see us getting back to the heady heights of joint-third.

For one we don’t have a striker like Shearer. Wayne Rooney is getting there, but it is more about his all-round game. He isn’t a predator like Shearer or Lineker.

That is linked with the fact that he misses the first couple of game anyway through suspension.

Shearer himself was interviewed recently and he voiced concerns about the English striking options.

Without Rooney there seems to be a lack of options and it is never going to be easy against France, Sweden and Ukraine, who do boast useful defences.

Shocks have happened in these tournaments before though.

Holland were bafflingly never expected to win in 1988, despite having Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullitt and Frank Rijkaard in their side.

Then in 2004, I’m still stunned how Greece managed to win the competition when two of their best players turned out for Bolton and Leicester City.

Former French international Bixente Lizarazu recently confirmed that he would run naked through the streets of Evian after they won promotion to the top flight in that country.

I won’t be volunteering to do anything like that, but I would be a little bit surprised if England lifted the trophy on Sunday July 1.

If I did strip down though, I probably wouldn’t be the only one doing it because no doubt there would be a day of national celebration if England made it through the group stage.