MICHAEL Carrick briefly casts his mind back to a "special time".

He's a 14-year-old with "hopes and dreams" and he's completely emotionally invested in Terry Venables' exciting England side at Euro 96.

"I remember it was edge of the seat stuff on the sofa at home," says the now Middlesbrough head coach.

"I remember that Spain game, Stuart Pearce and his penalty and then that Germany game when we should have won if Gascoigne had put that one in."

With that, there isn't a football fan in the land who was around in 96 and won't be immediately transported back to the sight of Gazza at full-stretch and the agony that followed.

The penalty shoot-out and the exit was heartbreaking but Carrick looks back on that tournament, that time and Venables' tenure with fond memories.

"That's a big-stand out for me looking back," said Carrick, paying tribute to the former England and Boro manager, who died at the weekend aged 80.

"Euro 96 was incredible. The tournament was special, the players and obviously Terry as manager. It was a special time and a special team.

"I just remember the buzz and the excitement that took over the whole country. Having it there on your doorstep was just incredible.

"I was like 14, 15, and by that stage I was starting to take football more serious. I had hopes and dreams and I'm watching it thinking, hoping and imagining, could it be me? It was a time that sticks out for me."


With those memories and with enormous respect for Venables and all he achieved in the game, the news of his passing at the weekend saddened Carrick greatly.

"The type of coach he was and the type of person he was has shone through with all the tributes," said Carrick.

"It was a really sad day for everyone connected with the club and for football in general. Euro 96 was an incredible time to be a young boy supporting England and he was a massive part of that."