Euro 2020: Former England keeper Seaman looks back on denying McAllister from the spot at Euro 96

There is still  one question that mystic mind can’t explain away. One unfortunate truth he is powerless to bend.

Twenty five years ago, with Scotland trailing the Auld Enemy, Uri Geller hovered in a helicopter above Wembley and willed the ball to quiver before Gary McAllister’s crucial spot-kick. Or so the story goes.

The ball certainly seemed to move; no doubt many England fans remain grateful to a higher force for McAllister’s penalty striking the arm of David Seaman. But the beneficiary has one final query.

David Seaman saved Gary McAllister’s penalty at Euro 1996 as England beat Scotland 2-0

Seaman spoke of his excitement for this summer with England playing games at Wembley

Seaman spoke of his excitement for this summer with England playing games at Wembley

‘I’ve recently done a podcast with him,’ Seaman tells Sportsmail. ‘I said: “Well, thanks for guiding it on to my elbow, Uri…where were you when Germany were taking their penalties?”‘

He can laugh now. The scars of semi-final heartbreak made way for rose tints before the end of Euro 96.

Recent reflections on that summer, though, have left Seaman feeling a bit funny – even without another dose of the supernatural.

‘A weekend of goosebumps,’ brought on by the start of Euro 2020.

Goalkeeper Seaman enjoyed his fair share of highlights with England, particularly at Euro 96

Goalkeeper Seaman enjoyed his fair share of highlights with England, particularly at Euro 96

‘England playing at Wembley again, (it) just brought back so many great memories,’ Seaman says.

More years of hurt have already prompted ‘a million’ re-runs of football’s last visit home.

Seaman often digs out footage of another penalty save – against Spain in the quarter-final shootout. But recently?

‘I’ve not had to go on YouTube because it’s been all over the tele,’ he laughs. ‘Memories come back to you… it’s just strange how certain things remind you.’

Many other moments never left the front of his mind.

The fondest of all? ‘Scotland,’ Seaman says without hesitation.

The goalkeeper admitted Scotland was his personal highlight during the memorable Euro 96

The goalkeeper admitted Scotland was his personal highlight during the memorable Euro 96

‘A strange game – the first half, not a lot really happened. And then in the second half everything happened,’ he says. ‘I made a good save against Gordon Durie, then the penalty save, and then my mate nicking all my glory.’

If only that did justice to the drama. Gareth Southgate played alongside Seaman during that 2-0 victory. Tomorrow, both will be chewing fingernails as the Tartan Army return.

At least three points against Croatia gives England some insurance. For Terry Venables’ side, victory in a first tournament meeting with Scotland was almost non-negotiable.

Still, though, they had no need for history books or battle cries on arrival at Wembley.

‘Gazza was making sure we were right up for it!’ Seaman recalls. Paul Gascoigne, then at Rangers, told the squad: ‘I’m not going back up to Scotland if we don’t beat these.’

Seaman with Paul Gascoigne in 2019 - 23 years after the fun and games they had at Euro 96

Seaman with Paul Gascoigne in 2019 – 23 years after the fun and games they had at Euro 96 

‘It was all the time. Gazza can be like that: once he gets something in his mind, he makes sure everybody knows about it,’ Seaman adds. ‘He was certainly more than up for it himself.’

After Alan Shearer nodded England in front, Seaman clawed away Durie’s header and saved from McAllister. Then Gascoigne lifted the ball over Colin Hendry and took care of the rest.

A moment of impulsive genius toasted by a celebration well-rehearsed. But Gazza’s route back into the dentist’s chair required several detours.

‘The main thing was trying to keep (him) on this planet,’ Seaman says.

So Venables would tell his keeper: ‘Take him fishing, he’s getting on my nerves,’

‘We’d just go down the road to the local trout lake. Get on a little boat, row out into the middle of the lake. It’s fun fishing with Gazza… and different!’

Not long after the save, Gascoigne scored a great goal and celebrated with the 'Dentists Chair'

Not long after the save, Gascoigne scored a great goal and celebrated with the ‘Dentists Chair’

Surely a whirring mind like his doesn’t have the patience?

‘He’d put on a new fly, throw it out two or three times and if he didn’t get a fish, he’d bring it in and change it,’ Seaman says. ‘He spent more time out of the water than he did in it!’

Every few days they would battle for the next catch.

‘It wasn’t a case of going and chatting about personal stuff, or anything like that, it was a case of getting away from the hotel but still in competition mode,’ Seaman says. ‘I normally won… he’s forever tying knots!’

Before facing Spain, Gazza toppled into the water. Another time, a crafty photographer – disguised as a fellow angler – snapped Seaman, Gascoigne and goalkeeper Ian Walker on the water. ‘We chased him off the fishery and Gazza started to let his tyres (down),’ Seaman says. ‘Gazza’s got the guy’s phone, he redialled it and it went straight through to Piers Morgan!’

Fortunately the midfielder had Scotland’s number, too. The seeds of his stunning goal were sown two minutes earlier, when Scotland won a penalty. Tony Adams felled Durie and Uri got to work.

The story goes that hypnotiser Uri Geller willed the ball to quiver before McAllister’s spot-kick

The story goes that hypnotiser Uri Geller willed the ball to quiver before McAllister’s spot-kick

‘It just starts to rock. And I think that’s why he went for power,’ Seaman recalls. ‘I remember diving to my right thinking: “I haven’t got time to put my hand out”. So I just stuck my elbow up.’

He demonstrates down the camera. ‘All of a sudden Tony Adams comes running in… he gave me a massive smacker on my cheek. And he hadn’t shaved!’

McAllister and Seaman share mutual friends so their paths still cross.

‘I wait for him to bring it up,’ the goalkeeper says.

No Englishman needs any excuse to mention what happened next.

‘I was still celebrating when bloomin’ Gazza scored,’ Seaman jokes.

From there, Euro 96 snowballed into a summer that changed English football.

Hard not to wonder, then: how different would life look had McAllister brought Scotland level with little over 10 minutes left?

The Arsenal legend admits the save from Gary McAllister was a turning point for football

The Arsenal legend admits the save from Gary McAllister was a turning point for football

‘That was a definite turning point’ says Seaman, speaking to Sportsmail against a carefully crafted backdrop.

The 57-year-old is flanked by two framed shirts – both bear the England crest, neither features the patchwork of colours he wore at Euro 96.

‘The yellow one was all right, I did not like the red one!’ Seaman says. ‘Umbro have since said that was their best ever selling goalkeeper kit.’

All in spite of some bad early reviews. Seaman recalls a pre-tournament game: ‘I can’t remember who we were playing but as our national anthem was being played, I noticed two of their players laughing at my kit… like two little schoolboys.’

In fairness, his verdict was hardly complimentary. ‘I went up into the press box afterwards and somebody said: “What do you think of your new kit?” I went: “It’s s*** and you can print that!”’

No such concerns now. Seaman watched Raheem Sterling’s winner against Croatia from home.

Seaman reveals he hated the red goalkeeper kit he wore during the Euro 96 semi-final

Seaman reveals he hated the red goalkeeper kit he wore during the Euro 96 semi-final

‘No, I didn’t throw the beer on the ceiling,’ he says. ‘But… it was close.’

That result gave lift-off to England’s tournament and vindicated Southgate’s bold selection.

‘Did I feel he had a strong enough character to be a manager? No. But he’s developed it perfectly,’ Seaman says.

‘Now you wouldn’t think of anyone better in that job… he speaks really well, he speaks with feeling as well.’

The roots of Southgate’s reign are forever entwined with his own spot-kick at Euro 96. Many among his current crop weren’t around for the semi-final against Germany. But Phil Foden’s hair speaks to how that summer endures.

Seaman, now an avid supporter, will watch Southgate and England at Euro 2020 from home

Seaman, now an avid supporter, will watch Southgate and England at Euro 2020 from home

‘I’m sure Euro 96 will be a positive reminder of what can happen,’ Seaman says.

‘Do I think they can go all the way? Yes I do… I just want to be around when England win a major trophy because boy am I going to celebrate.’

Surely that would call for another day on the lake with Gazza?

‘Yeah I’ll probably find him out somewhere, I don’t know where he’d be but he’d probably be celebrating already.’

 David Seaman was speaking to the Daily Mail in conjunction with William Hill