Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes the England national team had all the talent in the world to win a big tournament like the World Cup or European Championship, but didn’t have the right mentality.
The 43-year-old won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000 during his international career with France, and reached the World Cup final again in 2006, losing to Italy before retiring.
Despite featuring the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard England did not progress past the quarter-finals of either competition during that same eight-year period, and Zidane knows why.
“The mental factor can play a big part in football”, the Frenchman said in an interview with ShortList magazine.
“Spain couldn’t make it further than the quarter finals for years. When they did manage to, they went and dominated football in a way that hadn’t been done before.
“Some of those England teams I played against with players like Scholes, Gerrard and Beckham were more than capable of winning tournaments, so maybe mentality played a part.”
The Three Lions were eliminated in the round of 16 during the 1998 World Cup, the group stages during the 2000 Euro’s, and the quarter-finals during the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and the 2004 Euro’s.
However, Zidane does see the signs of a new England team with the potential to challenge at a big tournament beginning to emerge.
“[Harry] Kane and [Raheem] Sterling are two exciting players for England. This summer in France will be a real opportunity for the rest of Europe to see how good they are,” he added.
“I don’t think they are favourites but they still have some very good players. They were very strong in qualifying, so I am sure they will arrive in France thinking they have a chance.”
Zidane took over the reigns at Real Madrid on January 5, 2016 when Rafael Benitez was fired. He has won six of his seven games coached so far.