ITV Presents: Hoddle and Dixon's UEFA EURO 2016
Footballing greats Glenn Hoddle and Lee Dixon teamed up on the ITV Stage at Ad Week Europe to whet our appetites for the Euro 2016 championships.
With England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland all preparing to take on the best in Europe, the experts were in no doubt that this summer will be spectacular, emotional and exciting for millions of viewers and advertisers alike.
“It’s great that we’ve got British teams involved – certainly from an advertising front this will be the best tournament we’ve ever had,” said Hoddle.
“There’s nothing like football…it just takes over the country. There’s a lot of hope out there this year. There’s no better way for the country to be brought together.”
Former England and Arsenal right-back Dixon agreed. “If England do well, then the diversity of the audience is second to none,” he said. “You’re going to get everybody watching it live.
“That’s why it’s so good for the advertisers – nobody watches on-demand football.”
The experts, speaking to ITV presenter Mark Pougatch at Picturehouse Central, were agreed it was a fairly open tournament. “I can’t see a hot favourite,” said Hoddle. “England have got a chance, if you get a bit of good fortune, which we haven’t had since 1966. As to who’s going to win, it would be a shot in the dark and that’s what’s going to make it such an interesting tournament.”
However Dixon said the Germans would be strong. “If anybody beats Germany, I think they’ll be the winners,” he said. He also said Wales could be dangerous in England’s group. “I’m a bit fearful of Wales to be honest. I think Wales might just scrape through, I just hope it’s not instead of us.
The two pundits were almost agreed on what the England line-up should be for the first game against Russia – Kane, Vardy, Rooney, Milner, Alli, Dier, Hart, Rose, Stones and Smalling – but Dixon chose Walker at right-back and Hoddle went with Clyne.
They also agreed that the manager would have to be lucky with injuries. “If one or two get injured on the last day of the season then all your planning can really go out of the window. You’re a lucky manager if you get everyone you want to go to that tournament,” said Hoddle.
However there was one thing they couldn’t agree on – whether Hoddle should have picked Dixon in his 1998 World Cup squad.
“In 1998, when I was in the form of my life, you didn’t pick me,” said Dixon, who was clearly still holding a grudge…
Hoddle spoke about the pressure of managing England. “When you come to a tournament you’re bigger than the Prime Minister for six or seven weeks,” he said.
So was it a relief not to have that responsibility any more, when Hoddle left the job? “It was a relief for my family and close friends, but not for me,” he said. “I was frustrated – it wasn’t for football reasons, it was ridiculous in many ways. I wanted that job, I was excited about that job, we had Michael Owen coming through, David Beckham…”
However, they said the pressure on players and managers had gone through the roof in the modern day game. Hoddle described playing in the infamous ‘Hand of God’ game against Argentina in 1986. “If that happened now, Twitter and social media would have an absolute melt-down,” he said. “There’s no escaping it now. There’s an instant platform there to just go out and tell the world.”
Social media will heighten the excitement of the tournament, they agreed. “There are these crescendos of magic moments that happen,” said Hoddle. “Something will happen that’s never happened before and that’s the beauty of football.
“I don’t think there’s any sport like it and when you get a big tournament there’s nothing bigger in the world, brand-wise, television-wise, and for sport.”