Despite just missing out on ‘bringing football home’, reaching the semi-finals under those familiar skies brought forward an incredible sense of unity and love for the sport right across the country.
Leading the charge to such memorable heights was England manager, and former Palace player, Terry Venables. Signing for the red and blues for a fee of £70,000 in 1974, Venables played 14 games at the club before rising in rank to become manager only two years later.
In 1976, under Venables’ guidance, Palace gained promotion from the third to the second division, a major accomplishment considering his short tenure thus far.
Well documented in the BT Sport film ‘Team of the Eighties', this was a time at which major changes were sowing themselves into the fabric of the club, including a decision to take on a group of fresh, younger players. However defeats soon followed Palace’s climb to the top and Venables resigned in the same year, moving to oversee the Queen Park Rangers instead.
Venables is far from the only Eagle who had memorable moments playing at European Championships across the decades.
In 1979, Kenny Sansom signed for the club and played as a defender for both Palace and England, taking his place in the squad for the Euros just one year later.
He was able to repeat the feat in 1988 – although this time it was a tournament England fans would like to forget, with three defeats sending Bobby Robson’s side crashing out in the group stages.
Another Palace player able to crossover to England and the Euros was goalkeeper Nigel Martyn. Already making history as the first £1 million goalkeeper in the country, he played at Euro 1992, but in a tournament of upsets it was Denmark, rather than England, who managed to go all the way.
Both Sansom and Martyn accomplished a phenomenal double act, managing to represent England at an international championship while maintaining their duties at Palace. Both were incredible moments, and will forever be in the club’s history books.
Terry Venables’ years at the club marked a very important period in Crystal Palace history – and mirror the exploits of an ex-Palace international today.
His career after leaving Selhurst Park culminated in the coaching of an England team that included former Palace man Gareth Southgate, now England manager, who is leading the team in this year’s delayed Euros.
If he were to go one further than the achievements of Venables in 1996, it would spark that same excitement and joy in the nation all over again.
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