World Cup 2018: How the world looked when England last played a semi

REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

In 1990, England led by Gary Lineker, Bryan Robson and David Platt played in the World Cup semi-final in Italy. They lost to the future champions – Germany – after a penalty shootout in which Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed from the spot, and eventually finished the tournament fourth.

Just by looking at the names that played for the Three Lions back then, one can realise how long a time ago it was. Those were different times. A different world.


That only should make the fact England have reached the semi-finals once again even more special and appreciated.

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RealSport have taken a walk down the memory lane and, in the build-up to tonight's game, recall how different the world was 28 years ago – the last time football had a chance to come home.

Croatia didn’t exist…

Interestingly enough, tonight's opponents didn't exist. It was only a year after that World Cup when Croatia held their independence referendum. 

In 1990, the current territory of Croatia was still a part of Yugoslavia. A team of the same name also represented the region in the 1990 World Cup, with Croatia independently making their first World Cup appearance eight years later.

... nor did most of the current England squad

As one of the youngest squads at the World Cup, most of the players, in fact, weren't even born when Gary Lineker and Co. led England to fourth place in 1990.


Jamie Vardy, Ashley Young, Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker are the only ones who were born before that tournament, whilst Danny Rose was born a day after England’s 3-2 win in extra time against Cameroon in the quarter-finals, and Jordan Henderson a few days after the 1-0 group stage victory against Egypt.

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Kieran Trippier and Danny Welbeck were born later that year.

Gareth Southgate, in the meantime, would still have to wait five years for his first England cap and played for Crystal Palace. He was also called 'Nord' due to his way of speaking reminiscent of Denis Norden, a TV presenter.

The Iron Lady stepped down

Without implying that this might be a prognosis of things to come in politics this year, in 1990 Margaret Thatcher stepped down after 11 years as Prime Minister. The resignation from Geoffrey Howe, an ex-foreign secretary and then Deputy Prime Minister, sped up the end of Thatcher’s reign.

Following a leadership challenge from Michael Heseltine, she eventually withdrew from competing ahead of the second ballot and left Downing Street crying. 

She considered the whole plot as a betrayal. John Major, the Conservatives party leader and the chancellor in her government, later replaced Thatcher in her position.


First web browser was invented

In 1990, to the future joy of football fans, haters and journalists, Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first web browser – WorldWideWeb. A first search engine – Archie – was also introduced, alongside the release of the first edition of Photoshop.

That’s how long we’ve been preparing for the outpouring of celebratory memes and GIFs after worldies scored in Russia this year. Or, Neymar’s dives.

Sinead O’Connor and MC Hammer topped music charts

Drake was only four. Dua Lipa wasn’t even born yet. Music was definitely different back in 1990.

It was Sinead O’Connor, with her soppy ballad 'Nothing Compares 2U,' who topped the music charts. No boozy parties and no unclad models in her video, just close-ups of the artist herself going through different states of sadness. Pure art.

Following on that list was the immortal Madonna, as well as Vanilla Ice’s 'Ice Ice Baby,' with MC Hammer starting the baggy-pants craze thanks to 'Can't Touch This.'

What a time to be alive.


London wasn't scraping the sky

In 1990, London’s skyline was totally different to the one tourists crave to see as they flock down the Thames' river bank. There was no Shard, no Gherkin. Even the London Eye wasn't there until 2000.

The funky Canary Wharf properties didn’t exist either. London’s tallest building was… the Crystal Palace transmitter, completed in 1950.