We were only allowed out for one night before Euro 96… I ended up in dentist's chair, says Terry Sheringham

WHEN we think of Euro ’96, several beautiful images come to mind — Gazza’s goal, Pearce’s ­penalty and all of the win against Holland.

But two unpleasant images pop up too — one being a heartbroken Gareth Southgate after his penalty miss in the semi-final against Germany.

And, from a month or so before that, the photos of the infamous night out in Hong Kong.

Teddy Sheringham, his clothes inexplicably in shreds, was one of many faces staring out of our front pages along with a spirit-soaked Gazza, obviously enjoying an almighty pre-tournament bender.

They were indulging in the “dentist’s chair” — a notorious drinking game where bartenders poured a succession of drinks into the open mouths of punters.

As preparations for an international tournament went, it was not a good look.

A quarter of a century on, Teddy allows himself a sheepish smile at the memory. “It was a great night out, yes. Great fun.

“I mean, you’re with 20 of your mates. You know you have four weeks of staying in and are allowed this one night out.

“It’s not great pictures, I know, how it turned out. But you know you want to enjoy yourself for that one night — and we certainly did.”

But Teddy recalls how England boss Terry Venables somehow managed to turn it into a positive.

“We know it didn’t look very good to the public and Terry wasn’t best pleased about it and he let us know in no uncertain terms. But what he did afterwards with the Press was pure genius.

“He said, ‘Look, I allowed them out; it’s on my shoulders.’ And he protected the players. He defended us and we loved him for it.”

Indeed, the whole furore seemed to end up bringing the whole group together.

“I think that is exactly how it brought us together. When you’re in each other’s company, you get to know people.

“And then when someone defends you like (Terry did), it gives you a sturdiness in your group and a unity that perhaps you wouldn’t have got if we had stayed at home and stayed at (team hotel in England) Burnham Beeches and all been on a quiet front.”

It’s unlikely that Southgate will have the dentist’s chair as part of his strategy for this year’s tour­nament. He gave the night a pass thanks to Stuart Pearce’s sage advice.

But Euro ’96 will be front of mind for England’s current coach, reckons Teddy, partly because of what the current coach learned from the whole experience.

“I’m excited with what Gareth’s doing. I like that he’s worked under Terry Venables.

“He’ll take a lot from what Terry did in Euro ’96 — the way he tried to build that team spirit, that unity, that club feel. We’ve got some fantastic players.

“I love the look of Mason (Mount). I love the look of Foden. I love the way they take it to the opposition.

“You know, Declan Rice has come of age in that position. I’m excited about (Jack) Grealish coming on to the scene too.”

This enthusiasm for England’s young stars is quite something, coming from a player who in his career won a Champions League, three Premier League titles and an FA Cup, yet wasn’t picked for England until he was 27. Why?

“Good question,” says Teddy, without any noticeable bitterness. “I was probably in better form when I was around 24 or 25, and just when my form was dipping a little bit, I got the chance when I was least expecting it.”

Until then Teddy was exactly what he is now — a proper England fan. Of the Italia ’90 semi-final against West Germany, he says, “I remember being at a pub, I think down in Southend, and just getting ­carried away with it.

“I was a professional footballer by then but I was just enjoying being part of the crowd watching, and the excitement it brought to so many people, watching Gazza turn it on and England coming so close to being in the final.

“Once you’re a professional footballer, you dream that maybe one time it might happen to you.” Thankfully, for him and the rest of us, it did happen.
And the next time England were so close to being in a final he was there, a great player in a great side with a wonderful manager.

Teddy, along with most footballers you talk to who were coached by Venables, say his genius was in how brilliantly he explained stuff to them.

He had a way of making you understand what was expected.

Teddy says: “With a lot of managers, if you were told a lot of things, it would all get muddled.

“But he had a way of making it clear. I mean, it sounds very easy, doesn’t it?

“But so many managers I’ve played under make it hard work — when you come out of the meeting, you’re like, what was that? And you can see other players thinking that too. With Terry, it was different.”

As well as bringing the group together, the dentist’s chair drama also, of course, led to a celebration worthy of a sublime goal from Gazza against Scotland.

Teddy’s memory of it remains razor sharp. “I remember it very clearly. David Seaman hit a long ball up from a goal kick and it dropped quite kindly for me.

“I laid it off to Darren Anderton who played a beautiful floaty ball over the top and rest is just Gazza’s pure genius.”

The lads celebrated by recreating the dentist’s chair episode, Gazza lying on his back as Teddy sprayed his water bottle into his mouth.

Teddy admits some careful planning had gone into it. “I think we were all party to it, agreeing if we scored we could have a bit of fun with it.

“I took a while to get there as I was probably still coming over the halfway line and I’m not the quickest, but I had to be involved.”

Teddy thinks this England side have the same kind of talent, but he has a warning that they, and us fans, should heed — England, for all their class, didn’t have it all their own way in ’96.

They laboured against Switzerland, the first half against Scotland was a struggle and the Scots’ missed penalty was crucial.

“Sometimes you just have to dig in. Even looking back at the Holland game, the Dutch had three or four very good chances. It was actually a very even game between two very good teams, but we took our chances, and they didn’t.”

His point being that when it does get sticky, the players must work through it and, crucially, the fans have got to be patient and stay behind them.

Teddy’s other advice, in so many words, is not to lose the semi-final.

Because it hurts like hell. I’d forgotten that the first sudden death penalty, effectively, fell to him.

“It’s the most nervous I’ve ever been on a football pitch. Taking a penalty for your country, especially the fifth penalty, you know if you miss you’re going to get ridiculed for the rest of your life.”

He scored, Gareth didn’t, and you know the rest. The horror of that moment has stayed with Teddy. From all the excitement and all the euphoria, that feeling we’re going all the way to, cut, that’s it. Got to go home. Wow. That’s it. It was surreal, awful.”

He thinks England could go all the way, but says: “You’ve got to come together as a real unit, because any little splits in the camp will get shown up at some stage.

“Get into it. Stick together. Fight like hell at times

“Show your skill, but make sure you give your all because I’m here now 25 years later still swearing ifs and buts.

“Give it your best shot and come back as heroes. That is what I say.”

Enough said.

  • WATCH Adrian and Teddy’s chat at YouTube.com/thesun

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