The Football Masters once again got the National Stadium, Singapore up in lights as the England Masters took on the Germany Masters in front of a 10,700-strong crowd.
England vs Germany, always a highlight in the intentional football calendar, has produced many memorable clashes between the two countries with an amazing footballing tradition. 50 years since England last won a major tournament (they beat Germany on the way to winning their only World Cup in 1966), it might have been this lingering thought that motivated the England Masters to reproduce the iconic result of a 4-2 win over the Germany Masters at the National Stadium yesterday, Saturday, 12 Nov.
Kicking-off , the Battle Of Europe saw the longstanding international rivals pile the pressure on from within the first minute, with Darren Anderton putting a header past Perry Bräutigam. Getting back on their feet quickly, the Germany Masters pressed forward to make a few shots on target to keep David James busy between the posts.
It was not enough though, as the England Masters took advantage of an uncharacteristically disorganized Germany Masters team to extend their lead to 2-0 with a screamer by Teddy Sheringham in the 28th minute. However, the Germans responded immediately with a classy chip by Fredi Bobic over David James’ shoulder at the 31st minute.
Rejuvenated from the half-time break, the Germany Masters broke even with another goal by Fredi Bobic, who took advantage of a slip by half-time substitute, Michael Thomas. Visibly boosted by the equaliser, Lothar Matthäus commandeered his team mates to stay on the offence.
Perhaps boosted by more players having experience playing in Singapore, the England Masters pulled ahead in the 53rd minute when Steve McManaman sent a cross to Teddy Sheringham for an easy finish.
In one of the many pre-match meet-and-greet events around the country, Germany International and Liverpool Legend, Dietmar Hamann, singled out Emile Heskey as the player to watch. Heskey, who’d only recently called an end to his professional football career, was full of running all night. A controversial corner in the 55th minute then saw Emile Heskey deflect a shot from Lee Hendrie to extend the scoreline to the eventual 4-2.
At the full-time whistle, it was neither England nor Germany, but the fans who were the real winners as the players returned the support they received from fans after the big battle. Taking a lap around the stadium, some players met with and signed autographs for fans in the stands well into the night, further ensuring it was an evening to remember for all.
Reflecting on his second time in Singapore with Masters Football Asia, goal-scorer Emile Heskey shared, “It’s always nice to see the lads again. We are acres across England, so being able to come together and have some fun and be back on the pitch is great. It’s when we have the most memorable time.”
Adding on, Germany Masters captain and legend Lothar Matthäus said, “I was surprised at all the speed from the players! We had a great atmosphere at the stadium. You see how football connects people and makes them happy; it was great organization and we had a lot of fun. We are ready for a rematch, and I hope we will change the result.”
Masters Football has grown from a 5-a-side tournament to the 11-a-side game with the Liverpool Masters taking on the Manchester United Masters last year. It only seems to get better each year, so it will be interesting to see what Masters Football puts together for next year’s edition.
“This is 50th anniversary of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph and it’s a wonderful coincidence that the England Masters have won tonight with the same score-line. The support we’ve received this week has been astounding and the players are really pleased to be able to get back together again and play as a team. We will put on our thinking caps after tonight and start planning for next year’s game,” concluded Steve Black, CEO of Masters Football Asia.