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EURO 2016 - CITY LINKS

1 June 2016

As millions of supporters across the country will be perfectly aware of already, The 2016 European Championships begin later this month in France.

 

All 24 competing nations, including England, have now named their 23-man squads for the eagerly-anticipated tournament.

 

And while no current Bradford City player will be representing their respective nation in the competition this summer, there are still plenty of links between those participating and the Bantams.

 

Of the twenty-three players in Roy Hodgson's Three Lions squad, goalkeeper Tom Heaton, defender Danny Rose and midfielders Dele Alli and Jack Wilshere have all played at the Coral Windows Stadium at some point in their careers.

 

Heaton played in goal for Rochdale against City during a loan spell at Spotland Stadium back in 2009. Rose featured for England's Under 19s when Valley Parade played host to an international fixture against Slovakia, again in 2009.

 

Alli scored for Milton Keynes Dons against Phil Parkinson's men at the Coral Windows Stadium during the 2014/2015 season - City still went on to win 2-1 though in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

 

Wilshere was a member of the Arsenal side famously defeated by Bradford on penalties at the quarter-final stage of the Capital One Cup back in 2012.

 

Chelsea's Gary Cahill has, of course, played against the Bantams having scored the opening goal in City's memorable 4-2 FA Cup victory at Stamford Bridge in 2015.

 

England are one of four British and Irish sides competing at EURO 2016.

 

With City's Rory McArdle part of the squad that secured qualification last October, Northern Ireland will be at their first major tournament in 30 years.


Wigan Athletic's Will Grigg, Fleetwood Town's Conor McLaughlin, QPR striker Conor Washington, Doncaster Rovers defender Luke McCullough and Millwall's Shane Ferguson all played against Parkinson's side during the 2015/2016 campaign.

 

Reading midfielder Oliver Norwood also played against the Bantams in both of City's FA Cup quarter-final encounters with the Royals in 2015. 

 

Northern Ireland shot-stopper Alan Mannus enjoyed a three-game trial with the Bantams ahead of the 2009/10 season.

 

Fellow squad members Roy Carroll, Lee Hodson and Stuart Dallas have all also featured against City in the past.

 

For Wales, defender Ashley Williams captained Swansea City to Capital One Cup success over City in the 2013 final at Wembley Stadium.

 

Ben Davies, now with Tottenham Hotspur, also played for Swansea in that match.

 

Like Norwood, Welshman Hal Robson-Kanu appeared in both matches of Reading’s FA Cup quarter-final with City.

 

The attacker actually scored the opening goal in Reading’s 3-0 win over the Bantams in the replay at the Madejski Stadium.

 

Defender Chris Gunter played in the same replay.

 

Aaron Ramsey started alongside Wilshere in Arsenal’s penalty shoot-out loss to Parkinson’s side in the Capital One Cup just over three and a half years ago.

 

Goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams has also played against City during his time with Tranmere Rovers.


Two Republic of Ireland defenders, John O’Shea and Ciaran Clark, have both played notable games against the Bantams in recent years.


O’Shea featured in Sunderland’s 2-0 loss to City at Valley Parade in the FA Cup during the 2014/2015 campaign, with the Bantams’ opener being credited as an own goal against the former Manchester United man.


Clark was in central defence for Aston Villa for both legs of City’s Capital One Cup semi-final with the Midlands-based club back in 2013.

 

Veteran ‘keeper Shay Given also kept goal in both matches for Villa as well.

 

Robbie Keane, Ireland’s all-time top scorer, played against City for Wolves on the day the Bantams secured promotion up into the Premier League back in May 1999.

 

Keane scored the opening goal that day at Molineux but City fought back to secure a 3-2 win and a place in the top flight.

 

Two other members of Ireland's travelling party to France, Cyrus Christie and Wes Hoolahan, have also pitted their wits against City during their careers.

 

From the other nations competing in the tournament, Albania’s Frederic Veseli has appeared against City while playing for Port Vale.

 

Spain’s Cesc Fabregas came off the bench at Stamford Bridge towards the end of City’s famous FA Cup shock over Chelsea.

 

Experienced Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech started in net for Chelsea during City’s amazing 4-2 win.

 

One of Cech’s team-mate in the Czech Republic squad this summer, Tomas Rosicky, played in the Bradford City - Arsenal Capital One Cup tie of 2012.

 

France’s Bacary Sagna and Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny are another two players going to EURO 2016 who featured for the Gunners in that last-eight League Cup match at the Coral Windows Stadium.

 

Star French midfielder Paul Pogba, now with Juventus, once played alongside former City loanee Tom Thorpe in Manchester United’s youth set-up.

 

Pogba’s brother, Matthias, has also played against City during his days as a Crewe Alexandra player.

 

As a current Sunderland player, Sweden’s Sebastian Larsson was involved in the Black Cats side that lost out to City in the FA Cup fifth round.


Looking into Belgium's squad, there is probably three players who will be particularly memorable to City supporters.


Christian Benteke played in both legs of the aforementioned Aston Villa vs Bradford City Capital One Cup semi-final in 2013, with the forward scoring in the second match at Villa Park.


Defender Thomas Vermaelen played and scored for Arsenal in the 2012 Capital One Cup quarter-final with City. 


Vermaelen, who was since moved onto Barcelona, went on to miss the vital spot-kick on that cold December night at Valley Parade, handing City a sensational victory in the process.


In another of the Bantams' recent cup shocks, Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard came on as a substitute in City's FA Cup stunner at Chelsea.


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