Ahead of the 1998 World Cup, where David Beckham famously incurred the nation’s hatred after getting sent off against Argentina, England were involved in a training camp where Glen Hoddle would pick his squad.
Phil Neville and Nicky Butt both missed out on a place, as well as Paul Gascoigne, but the way in which the news was broken to them was fairly disastrous.
Gary Neville, speaking at Hotel Football ahead of the 0-0 draw with Southampton, has reflected on what that weekend was like.
It was an extremely difficult day. We went to La Manga for a training camp and to play against Morocco and Belgium. The last two days were relaxation days but that was when Glen Hoddle was going to announce his squad. He wasn’t malicious, he wanted to do it in the right way.
There were 28 of us and he had to get it down to 23 after these two matches. On the Saturday, a list of appointments went up on the wall in 10 minute slots. On the Saturday night everyone was panicking like crazy about their appointment.
The next day, Gazza was 10th or 11th in the queue but he knew Glenn Roeder who was on the staff. Before his appointment, he saw Glenn Roeder and asked him what was happening, and Glenn looked away from him, so Gazza cottoned on that he wasn’t in the squad. So Gazza ended up storming down the corridor where the meetings were and jumping the queue.
The meetings were already running over, so there was already a queue of people waiting to get in to this room. It was not well organised. So Gazza storms in and all hell broke lose. The tables went, he’s shouting, he’s screaming, he was obviously beside himself. Everyone heard it.
Everyone was shocked. Nobody expected that Gazza would be left out. The way we looked at it, he was one of our most important players. He was coming towards the end but he was a brilliant character and nobody thought he would be left out.
So the Gazza thing was going on and in the meantime the meetings started again. Phil went in and came out, and it was the most upset I’ve seen Phil in my life. He was absolutely devastated. I thought Phil would be in the squad. He’d actually been told two days before from one of the coaches not to worry and that he would be alright. Glen had changed his mind the day after and the coach didn’t come back to him.
It was an absolute nightmare that day. Nicky Butt was left out, Phil was left out, Dion Dublin was left out, so that’s three Manchester United players. Me, Scholesy and Becks were left. We didn’t used to share a room. It was Butty and Scholesy, then me and Phil. But that night I went in to Scholes’ room and we were talking all night about how bad it was.
I take the piss a little bit now but at the time, Butty was devastated, Phil was absolutely beside himself because he’d been told that he was in, Gazza was all over the place. It wasn’t just that. In the meeting, they were given their plane tickets, so they left that day. It wasn’t a great time.