On This Day, in 1999...
Sunderland’s Stadium of Light played host to a friendly game between Belgium and England, with the crowd packed out with mackem supporters hoping to cheer on their man, ‘Super’ Kevin Phillips, as he started up top alongside Alan Shearer for Kevin Keegan’s side.
England: Seaman, Dyer, Southgate, Adams, Keown, Guppy, Lampard, Ince, Redknapp, Shearer, Phillips. Subs: Neville, Martyn, Le Saux, Wise, Scholes, Heskey, Owen.
Belgium: De Vlieger, Deflandre, Peeters, Van Meir, Van Kerckhoven, Oyen, Van De Haeghe, Wilmots, Tanghe, De Bilde, Strupar. Subs: Gaspercic, Pierre, Walem, Brocken, Goor, Brogno, Clement.
Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)
Having secured qualification for Euro 2020 already, the game against the tournament co-hosts was there to test Keegan’s men, and to give game-time to a host of players forcing their way through at the time. Debuts were given to Frank Lampard and Steve Guppy, whilst SuperKev up top was rewarded for his fine league form with a start.
The two goals on the day were fantastic. The opener, an overhead kick from Shearer, gave England a lead six minutes in. Belgium were unrelenting, however, and brought the scores level soon after.
Jamie Redknapp’s strike - his first for England - from around 25 yards out nearly put a hole in Geert De Vlieger’s net to give England the win on home soil.
Sadly for SuperKev, there was no goal for him on the day. He was taken off after just 58 minutes, and the Sunderland supporters in attendance weren’t best pleased.
He did however create a fantastic chance for Steve Guppy with a backheeled pass which should have put the Leicester winger into a shooting position, but he didn’t read the pass and failed to reach it in time.
Many fans will recall that all the talk coming out of the game was around the fact Shearer wouldn’t pass the ball to Phillips, his mackem counterpart. Whether that was true or not I have no idea, but there’s certainly no love lost between the pair!