EURO 2016 and Copa America are special, and this summer has already been one to remember. The US won their group in Copa America this weekend with a nail-biting win over Paraguay, and England had a soul-crushing blow in the final minute against Russia, but in both games, entire nations sat on the edge of their seats for two hours for a sporting event in a way no other sport inspires.
And we each have particular games and memories that stick out. For some teams, some of those memories were just made this week.
I mean, you never ever forget these moments, right?
Our staff members are fans just like you, and we have our memories as well. We support England, Australia, and the US between us here at Through It All Together, and so this week, we look back at some of our favorite moments and share them with you. And who knows, maybe we'll be changing our list by the end of this summer.
Back with you this week: Matt Robinson is from Yorkshire, Ben Mallis is from Perth, Australia, and Johnny Wakefield is from Charlotte, North Carolina in the States. All are "all Leeds," all have brought you coverage throughout the season, and all will try to answer the questions we present every Wednesday to the best of their ability. It's not a quiz show, but it should give you some insight into them as fans and writers alike.
And at the end, in the comments, don't forget to let us know how you'd answer the question of the week.
The Weekly Wednesday Roundtable... begins now.
What was your personal favorite moment in international football history?
Matt Robinson: As a very proud Englishman there are several moments I could pick as my favorite in international football. The World Cup win back in 1966 is right up there. Beckham's free kick against Greece was pretty special too. I remember as a young kid watching replays of the Italia 90 Semi Final (of course Gazza crying is the low-light here) and Lineker's goal in that game was one of my favorites ever....
Most of these were too early on in my life to go down as my favorite memory though. For me, it has to be the 5-1 thrashing of Germany in the World Cup Qualifier 2001 in Munich. I felt so invested in that England team with Owen, Gerrard, Scholes, Beckham, Cole, Fowler....the list goes on and on. Despite the fact they never won anything, and actually largely dissappointed, they still go down as the best England team I can remember watching. And this game was one of the best they ever played.
Michael Owen, in the earlier years, was just breathtaking and the fact big Heskey got among the goals just make it all the sweeter. If England could pull something like this off in the Semi's or Final of the Euros then I think my head would just explode.
One can only dream.
Ben Mallis: My answer is simply a date: November 16, 2005. This was the day I finally witnessed Australia qualify for a World Cup.
See, the pain of being a Leeds supporter this century pales in comparison to the suffering of following the Socceroos since 1974, the first time we qualified for the World Cup. For over 30 years, we kept finding new ways to disappoint with each successive failure being more heartbreaking than the previous.
Through the 1980’s we constantly threw away qualification by collapsing against the likes of New Zealand, Israel and Scotland. Not exactly football powerhouses.
In 1997, we went undefeated through qualifying and led Iran 2-0 with 20 minutes remaining in the qualification playoff. The tie was over and we were headed to France 1998... well that’s what the boyhood version of myself stupidly thought. But it wasn’t over and we didn’t qualify thanks to the greatest collapse in the history of Australian sport.
Then in 2001, the Socceroos took arguably their greatest team of all time and a 1-0 lead into a second leg against Uruguay. But again, more heartbreak, as we were comfortably beaten 3-1 on aggregate. We were stuck in a rut. But this all changed on November 16, 2005.
Those pesky Uruguayans were once again standing in our way, and after 210 minutes of nerve-racking football where every tackle, pass and run was vital, we headed to penalties for a place in the Germany 2006 World Cup.
That video of the entire shootout is full of insane moments. Former Leeds Untied stars Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka embracing (pour one out for the glory days), Viduka then producing one of the worst spot kicks I have ever seen, only for Mark Schwarzer to save the day with the greatest save of my lifetime. Then it was all up to John Aloisi.
A lifetime of heartbreak was all forgotten with one kick of the ball by John Aloisi. HE SCORED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On that night we defeated a two time World Cup Champion and stamped our ticket to international football’s grandest stage. It was the night Australian football came of age and the first time in my life I was able to enjoy a triumphant Socceroos moment. Football is awesome!
Johnny Wakefield: I love America. I might not always love our political leaders... or our... no, let's not go down that road... but I definitely love our soccer teams. Teams plural, as some of my favorite moments in US Soccer history involve the ladies, and last summer's final was easily my favorite of those.
Four goals in 15 minutes against the defending champs? Yeah, that'll do. The USWNT gets nearly as much support as the USMNT over here, and it's well deserved, so I had to throw them into this answer. Last summer was special.
But the men's team is closest to my heart. The 1994 World Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup were amazing and special, and I got to see the team live in 2007 against Brazil in Chicago. While I'm not quite wealthy enough to have seen them play in real life more than once, I've been to many a pub/house party for international games as well.
The 2010 World Cup was probably the highlight of my USMNT-loving days: in 2002, games were while I slept; in 2006, I lived in South Africa alone; and in 2014, I was a new dad and games were watched (quietly) from the comfort of my living room (Wondo, whyyyyy?). But in 2010, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Tim Howard cemented their spots in my heart, none more than the first.
After drawing with England in the opener (angry words for Steven Gerrard), the US lost to Slovenia, 2-2. How do you draw against Slovenia? Just awful, but down 2-0 in the first half, a 2-2 draw was a relief as it kept us alive to advance. All we needed was a win against Algeria to make it out of group EASY (England, Algeria, Slovenia, Yanks), as the media described it.
But of course, nothing was easy for US soccer. Still tied up at 0-0 in stoppage time, a single moment from Landon Donovan made hearts explode across America.
And this was the moment I knew nothing would ever compare to soccer for me ever again. I had season tickets to my club team, the Seattle Sounders, and that was amazing, but I had always loved baseball and hockey, football and basketball. Landon Donovan's stoppage time winner to get us out of the group stage made a nation spontaneously combust with soccer passion. You cannot beat that sort of drama in any other sport: a 0-0 draw ending on the foot of your star and captain to send you on to the knockout stages... still gives me chills.
I'll never forget running into the streets of Seattle after that goal, and I'll love Landon Donovan forever just for that. Go, go, USA.
That's it for this week's roundtable. We shared England, Australia, and USA highlights that will never leave the hearts and minds of our staff members. So what's your favorite moment? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading this week, enjoy your summer, and see you again next week. #MOT