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Looking at England’s central midfield options for Euro 2004 will make you feel sick

Remember the days when England couldn't move for world-class central midfield options?

Jack Cork’s call up to the England squad was an eye opener.

Now we’ve got nothing against Cork, who’s cut out a steady Premier League career for himself, but the fact that he’s only a couple of injuries away from international duty is worrying.

So let’s take our minds off everything and remember the good ol’ days of Euro 2004, when we couldn’t move for world-class options in the centre of midfield.

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This was actually a Gucci photoshoot

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This was actually a Gucci photoshoot

Steven Gerrard

A 24-year-old Gerrard came into the tournament with 24 England caps to his name. Lovely symmetry.

Gerrard’s opening game ended in despair after his backpass was intercepted by Thierry Henry, who was fouled for a penalty which Zinedine Zidane scored to give France the win.

But he scored in England’s next game, against Switzerland, and started every match on the way to an inevitable quarter-final exit on penalties at the hands of Portugal.

Frank Lampard

Lamps was named in England’s Euro 2004 squad after hitting double figures in the Premier League for the first time in his career.

The big debate back home was whether England could play both Lampard and Gerrard together in a 4-4-2 formation.

Lampard started every game, scoring three times, although it’s difficult to shake the feeling that England never got the best out of the pair.

Do your best plane impression Frank

PA:Press Association
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Do your best plane impression Frank

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Paul Scholes

The finest passer England ever produced, Scholes was nonetheless played out on the left at Euro 2004.

It still pains us to write that. What could have been if we’d implemented a 4-3-3 formation?

Scholes retired from international duty immediately after the tournament with a criminally low 66 England caps. We don’t blame him.

‘Just make sure you fill in for Ashley Cole every time he goes forward’

AP:Associated Press
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‘Just make sure you fill in for Ashley Cole every time he goes forward’

David Beckham

Beckham was best utilised out on the flank, where his laser guided right foot could drop the ball on a penny from anywhere within the opposition’s half.

But, when needed, he could also step inside and dictate the tempo from the centre of midfield.

Unfortunately the England captain’s most memorable contributions at Euro 2004 were two penalty misses, against France and Portugal.

That’s going out of the stadium

AP:Associated Press
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That’s going out of the stadium

Owen Hargreaves

Any time England needed to close out a game at Euro 2004 Sven turned to Owen Hargreaves.

His combination of stamina and composure meant he came on as a second-half substitute in all but one of England’s games.

He even tucked away a penalty in the shootout against Portugal although, with his German upbringing at Bayern Munich, that came more naturally to the midfielder than most of his team-mates.

A familiar sight

Getty Images - Getty
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A familiar sight

Ledley King

With five caps heading into Euro 2004 King was something of an unknown quantity.

But that all changed after he marked Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet out of the game in England’s Group B opener.

His versatility meant that when John Terry moved into the heart of defence for England’s next three games King could push up to defensive midfielder, as he did against Croatia.

Nicky Butt

Butt enhanced his reputation as one of football’s best fringe players by not featuring in a single minute of England’s Euro 2004 campaign.

You can guarantee he wouldn’t have been slacking in training, unlike some other players who wouldn’t have been best pleased about their lack of minutes.

That said, he must have wanted to have a word with Sven when he brought Phil Neville on in midfield in the dying minutes of England’s win against Croatia.