Gary Stevens: I can't see England doing anything at Euro 2012
HE played for his country at the 1986 World Cup and is as passionate about the Three Lions as the next man. But Gary Stevens just cannot see England lifting the Euro 2012 trophy in Kiev on July 1.
With Wayne Rooney suspended, injuries blighting the build up and, quite simply, not enough quality players available, Stevens is of the opinion that England will do well to get out of Group D and try their luck in the knock-out stages.
Unsurprisingly, the 50-year-old from Tunbridge Wells believes Spain are the overwhelming favourites, but also fancies Germany and Holland to push them all the way.
"I'm passionate about my country, I want us to do well," Stevens said. "But I'm honest and realistic about it. I just cannot see us winning enough games. I see us as a Denmark or Greece of this tournament. We're in there, making up the numbers. But we're not anything like being one of the favourites."
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Stevens does, however, think England have got the right man in Roy Hodgson to lead us forward in years to come, even if he feels the Rio Ferdinand situation could have been handled better.
"I think he was a great candidate for the job," Stevens said. "He is the right age and has the experience, and because of the respect he is held in.
"I think he sees this tournament as an opportunity to build the foundations ahead of qualifying for the next World Cup. It isn't his team that has got us here - he has picked up the pieces very late. But the way he operates is with a solid platform and he is starting to achieve that already with two 1-0 wins. He will look to build and improve on that, but I do think you are going to see a damned defensive England at this tournament."
And on Ferdinand, he added: "Football is very much about opinions and when Rio has two million Twitter followers it does give a false slant on general opinion.
"My feeling, with the impending court trial, is that you can never see John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in the same team. I think Roy Hodgson made the choice on who he wants. But I think that should have been said. He should have said ' I can only have one - I have made my decision'. If that had been done the right way, with the backing of the players involved, then there would have been a united front. Now you've got his decisions being questioned by someone who has played 81 games for England and has captained England, against someone who has only managed two friendlies."
Moving away from England, Stevens can't wait for the football to get started.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the best players in Europe playing in a 16 team tournament. There are a hell of a lot of games in a short space of time and for football fans, that is great."
And Spain are his tip.
"If you look at it, I don't think a nation has ever won three major tournaments in a row," he said. "Spain have won the European Championships and the World Cup, but to win a third would be quite exceptional. Having said that, they have probably got the best group of football players out of all the countries."