Farewell Denmark, Bring On Italy
More Memories Of Past Meetings
As we bring almost a month of international-based stories towards a conclusion, we look at how matches against both last night’s opponents and Sunday’s visitors have impacted on the careers of Wolves players.
Denmark, who have brought much to Euro 2020, were the country who Billy Wright last faced before learning he was to become national captain. On the last leg of his journey home from the game in Copenhagen in September, 1948, he was on a bus back to his digs at Mrs Oakley’s in Burland Avenue when conductress Helen Mearden showed him the stop press of that night’s Express & Star that contained the news of his elevation to the role of skipper for the game against Northern Ireland the following month. It was a position he kept for the remaining 90 caps of his phenomenal career with the Three Lions.
Steve Bull never led England out but, before being awarded the armband at Molineux, went on as a substitute in a 1-1 draw away to Denmark in May, 1989 – the 60th and last appearance of his remarkable season with club and country.
It wasn’t always like it now is……in the opening game of the 1992 European Championship in Malmo, an England side containing future Wolves men Keith Curle and Tony Daley under the management of Graham Taylor laboured to a 0-0 draw against the Danes. While England didn’t make it out of the group, their opponents went on to lift the trophy despite not having been scheduled to be part of the tournament.
And so to Sunday’s Wembley opponents, Italy…..
A meeting with the Azzurri at Tottenham in November, 1949 was an historic one for two Wolves legends. Billy Wright scored only his second international goal while Bert Williams performed heroics in a 2-0 win that had visiting journalists dubbing him ‘Il Gattone’ (The Cat).
There were no players from Molineux in the side who drew 0-0 in Rome’s Olympic Stadium in October, 1997 to book a place at the World Cup finals in France the following summer. But the manager was Glenn Hoddle and one of his braveheart performers was Paul Ince – both of them later of Wolves.
Two of Ron Flowers’ 49 England caps were won against Italy – in a 2-2 friendly draw at Wembley in May, 1959 and in a 3-2 victory in Rome two years later. He didn’t have to look far for familiar faces in the one at the national stadium. Among his team-mates were Billy, Peter Broadbent and Wolverhampton-born Don Howe.
It was in a B international against Italy at Brighton’s Goldstone Ground that Steve Bull signed off in the autumn of 1989 before a three-match club suspension that cost him the chance of playing in the senior game between the same two countries the following night.
But the striker did spend several weeks in the Italian sunshine the following summer when he was part of the England squad who reached the semi-final of the World Cup under Bobby Robson.