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How a Spurs Legend Almost Went All-In On England World Cup Chances

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Teddy Sheringham is a Spurs legend who scored 124 goals for the club and did so across two spells.

In four prolific seasons alone, he bagged 90 goals, starring in the first-ever Premier League season. Whilst at Spurs, he went to Euro 96, where he captured the nation’s heart with all-action displays in a summer that will be remembered for a lifetime. Even after leaving the club and going to Manchester United, the fans retained a fondness for him, which led to a two-season return, in which he reached double figures for goals twice.

Even after leaving the game, Teddy remains a popular figure in North London, or at least the white half of it. He’s regularly asked his opinion on the transfer news of the day, as well as giving thoughts on England.

Klinsmann formed an excellent partnership alongside Teddy Sheringham

After the game, Sheringham became a keen poker player, racking up some impressive winnings. His , and during the course of his cards career, he amassed winnings in excess of £330k. Whilst his risk-taking and bold moves paid dividends around the felt of the poker table, he almost went all-in on one decision that could have cost England dearly.

The date was October 6, 2001. A nervy England were vying with Germany for a place at the 2002 World Cup and had been buoyed by a fine 5-1 win in Munich a month earlier. It hadn’t been an easy campaign; after defeat against Germany, Kevin Keegan resigned, and the following 0-0 draw with Finland severely dented qualification hopes. They had to better Germany’s result at home to Finland on the final game day but went into injury time trailing minnows Greece 2-1 despite Sheringham’s opening strike. The game in Germany finished, and England still needed a goal.

With seconds left, fate dealt Sheringham a great hand. He moved into an attacking position and was fouled for a crucial free-kick. The regular taker was David Beckham, but Sheringham felt in a confident mood. “I’d already scored to make it 1-1 in the game, so I was buzzing. I felt ten feet tall, and I’d won the free-kick late on in the game, making the most of a shove from the defender,” Teddy later said of the game. “Becks had probably had five or six free-kicks in that game, and they’d gone all over the place; he’d hit the wall, he’d hit Row Z, so when we got the last one I actually said to him ‘Becks, I’ll have this one.'”

Luckily for England, Beckham rebuked the offer in no uncertain terms, calling Sheringham’s bluff. “He just said, ‘Go away, Ted. You can’t even reach from here.'”

What happened next is still a part of English footballing folklore. Beckham curled the ball neatly over the wall and into the back of the net. A whole national went wild, and Sheringham celebrated with everyone else, not disclosing his attempts to hijack the free-kick until much later in his career.

Sadly, the opening goal of the game was Sheringham’s last for England. He went to the World Cup, almost bagging in the 1-0 win against Argentina and making his final appearance against Brazil in the quarter-finals. After the tournament, Sven Goran Eriksson called time on his England career, and he began a journey from the pitch at Wembley to the tables of London’s top poker rooms.

Could Teddy Sheringham have been the man to send England to the World Cup? It was a brave call from a confident man, but whilst calling an opponent around the poker table only affected him, this one could have been to the detriment of a nation. Luckily, he wasn’t given a chance to fail and remained a hero in the eyes of Spurs and England fans.

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