On this day in 2007: England fail to qualify for Euro 2008 after Croatia defeat
England were beaten 3-2 by Croatia at Wembley on this day in 2007 to end their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 and seal the fate of manager Steve McClaren.
Their failure to qualify for the Euros meant the writing was on the wall for McClaren, who was dismissed as boss a day later after 18 months in charge.
McClaren had watched the dismal defeat unfold in the pouring rain at Wembley from under an umbrella and was dubbed the “wally with a brolly”.
England only needed a draw to book their place at the finals in Austria and Switzerland but found themselves two goals down at the break, Scott Carson letting Niko Kranjcar’s 25-yard effort slip through his grasp for the first before former Arsenal striker Eduardo made it two.
David Beckham came off the bench for his 99th cap and inspired an England comeback as he set up Peter Crouch for a superb equaliser shortly after Frank Lampard had converted a 56th-minute penalty to put England on course for qualification.
But the fightback proved in vain as Croatia substitute Mladen Petric beat Carson from 20 yards 13 minutes from time to end England’s hopes.
After the match McClaren declared he would not be stepping down, but the Football Association took the decision out of his hands by sacking him after just 18 games, making him the shortest-serving permanent England boss in history at the time.
McClaren’s reign heralded just nine wins and ended with the team conceding three goals on home soil for the first time in 35 years.
“I feel I have let the fans down and the country down,” said McClaren.
“I knew that if we didn’t qualify that would put the board in a difficult position.
“I can understand the decision, the reaction and the criticism. It hurts and disappoints me, but that is football and it will make me stronger in the future.”
England turned next to Fabio Capello, while McClaren rebuilt his reputation by leading Dutch side FC Twente to the Eredivisie title in 2010 and had further spells at Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest, Derby, Newcastle and QPR and is now on the coaching staff at Manchester United.