Anatomy of a Goal: David Platt's Volley for England at Italia 90

It's always 'Scholes!', 'Gerrard!' or 'Van Persie!' that gets yelled aimlessly these days as one lines up the sweetest volley known to mankind– the one that's destined to result in a complete shin roller.

The question is, why wasn't it David Platt's name being shouted, after his magnificent strike at the 1990 World Cup? Do the youth of today HATE ENGLAND?

The midfielder joined up with the England squad for the first time in 1989 after being called up by Sir Bobby Robson, and went on to make the 22-man squad for Italia 90 after another impressive season with Aston Villa – where he won the PFA Players' Player of the Year.

Despite making the cut for the England squad at Italia 90, Platt was initially used as a squad player, often appearing from the bench. It was by no means an easy team to break into, granted, with England boasting a midfield that consisted of John Barnes, Steve Hodge, Neil Webb and Bryan Robson, who captained the side at what would be his last tournament with England.

Bryan Robson captained England, while a young Paul Gascoigne impressed

Platt was also competing for a spot with a young and hungry Paul Gascoigne, which shows how much talent the Three Lions had heading into the World Cup.

Peter Shilton also made the squad at the age of 40 – which isn't even impressive when you learn that he continued to play professionally for another seven years afterwards, and continued to get rattled on Twitter by Diego Maradona for even longer than that.

Truth be told, there was a lot to be excited about in 1990. The Charlatans made the UK music charts with 'The Only One I Know' and released their debut album that year, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior clashed in a winner takes all match at WrestleMania VI, and England were actually good. Even if it was to be the last tournament Robson managed the side at - as he announced he would step down as manager following the World Cup - there was a solid squad at his disposal, ready to give it their best go.

England finished top of Group F with four points, drawing with the Republic of Ireland and defeating Egypt to secure their place in the knockout stages. All of Platt's appearances so far had been cameos from the bench, and he'd been goalless.

Robson's lions faced Belgium in the round of 16. Managed by Guy Thys, the Red Devils edged through the group stage with two wins and a loss in their three games and, while their squad was by no means bad, England were certainly equipped to deal with them. But they almost didn't.

"I can remember little snatches of the game," recalled Platt, speaking to The Guardian in 2010. "John Barnes having a volleyed goal harshly disallowed, Belgium hitting the woodwork twice, I can still see Enzo Scifo hitting the post with a tremendous strike from 25 yards."

The two sides were at each other hammer and tongs but, even with opportunities at both ends, the game was a stalemate after 90 minutes and headed to extra time.

Neither side managed to break the deadlock inside 90 minutes

Platt had been brought on in the 71st minute for a tired Steve McMahon, with Robson hoping that fresh legs would secure the result in normal time. That didn't work though, and the game suddenly had a real chance of going to a penalty shoot out, something England had been notoriously poor at until the 2018 World Cup.

As the game drew to a close, and England fans' nails were chewed down to somewhere around the second knuckle, the Three Lions were awarded a free kick about 40 yards out, dead centre of the pitch. A young Paul Gascoigne - who had become a fan favourite at the tournament - stood over the ball, and lifted it into the box, toward the six-yard area.

Suddenly, amongst the chaos of everybody chasing the ball in, Platt had wriggled free. Watching the ball like a hawk, he rotated 360 degrees and followed the ball down to his right boot, smashing it home past Michel Preud'homme in the Belgium goal.

"England have done it, in the last minute of extra-time!" cheered commentator John Motson – a line every sentient human being should recognise from the 1996 release of Three Lions – and Platt's volley had sent England to the quarter-final of the World Cup in one of the very last kicks of the game.

The volley was outrageous. The concentration levels needed were beyond measure, and the technique to follow it down and strike with such pinpoint accuracy - you know, with the laces - was simply obscene. Unacceptable.

The stadium erupted, and David Platt did too, falling to his knees in complete euphoria. Nobody believed what he'd just done, nor did he.

"When you score a goal like that you just go outside yourself for a bit, everything is surreal. The adrenaline surge is so great it's as if I really was in a different place, a different world."

England were headed to the quarters in astonishing fashion, and Platt had just scored a goal that will forever remain engraved in England's football history. The good side of it, too. That little bit of magic was the spark among fans, and perhaps in the squad too. A belief was there all of a sudden, and it snowballed when Platt scored again in the following game.

Cameroon would equalise that day, but two penalties from Gary Lineker kept the dream alive, and once again England advanced after extra time. This was it. The squad had all the talent and belief in the world, backed by a nation of raucous fans that were completely on board, intoxicated with euphoria and patriotism.

Then it came crashing down.

Heartbreak in the semi-finals saw the dream crushed. England were a penalty shootout away from the World Cup final, but couldn't fire themselves through as West Germany prevailed.

The dream was over, but that England squad will forever remain loved and adored by the nation. An incredible squad, bonded by unbreakable team spirit and coached by a legendary manager, who bowed out with zero shame and his head held high. David Platt was central to it.

The fairytale ending wasn't to be, but the ecstasy of that lofted pass from Gazza, finished off in superb fashion by Platt, was enough to make history in itself.

Again, 'Motty' captured the moment better than anyone could, "One of the most dramatic goals in the World Cup – and probably one of the best."

Source : 90min