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Palace's Previous Euro Representatives

10 June 2016

This summer could see four Palace players feature at Euro 2016 with Wales selecting Joe Ledley, Wayne Hennessey and Jonny Williams, and Yohan Cabaye picked  by France.

With four representatives at the tournament, the Eagles will actually have more than European giants such as AC Milan (two), Porto (two) and Ajax (one) and the same as Atletico Madrid and Paris St Germain.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that the Eagles have only ever had two players that have gone to a European Championships before, and one of those didn’t see a single minute of action!

Palace’s first ever call-up to the continental competition came back in 1980 when their emerging left-back Kenny Sansom was selected by England for the finals in Italy. Then aged just 21, Sansom had quickly become a regular under Ron Greenwood and had collected seven caps after making his debut a year earlier against Wales.

He was the youngest player in a talented England squad that was captained by Kevin Keegan, who had won the Ballon d’Or the previous two years, and included Steve Coppell, Ray Wilkins, Trevor Brooking and Glenn Hoddle. In fact the group boasted 19 European Cup winners medal between them (by way of comparison, Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad has just three).

Greenwood had become the first man to lead England to a major championship since Sir Alf Ramsey a decade earlier, and with his star-studded squad he was expected to follow in those footsteps and guide his side to tournament glory once again.

However it wasn’t to be. A 1-1 draw with Belgium in their opening group game was overshadowed by hooliganism in the stands, with the police using tear gas to stop the fighting whilst the two teams gathered in the centre circle.

Samson started that game and also the single goal defeat to the hosts in the next match that saw England eliminated. He was dropped for the final game – a dead-rubber 2-1 win over Spain – and Palace would have to wait 36 years for another player to feature at a Euros.

They nearly had another in Euro 92 though. Nigel Martyn had been impressing for the Eagles since becoming English football’s first £1 million goalkeeper, and his form had seen him handed two caps by Graham Taylor in the lead up to the finals in Sweden.

That was enough to see him included in Taylor’s 20 man squad as back-up goalkeeper to Chris Woods, and with England having reached the semi-finals of the World Cup  two years previously, again hopes were high that the long wait for tournament success was over.

Gary Lineker captained the Three Lions who also had Stuart Pearce, Des Walker and David Platt in their ranks, but the rest of the group were inexperienced at international level and so it proved. 

Successive goalless draws against eventual winners Denmark and France were followed by a 2-1 defeat to the hosts and once England departed in shambolic fashion from an international tournament, with Martyn not dirtying his gloves.

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