Football: England and Germany veterans show mastery

Germany's Fredi Bobic is airborne while scoring one of his two goals at the National Stadium yesterday. "We are a little bit older, not so fast any more, but there's a lot of passion in the game," he said of the Masters clash. The England veterans wo
Germany's Fredi Bobic is airborne while scoring one of his two goals at the National Stadium yesterday. "We are a little bit older, not so fast any more, but there's a lot of passion in the game," he said of the Masters clash. The England veterans won 4-2, a repeat of the score in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

England, Germany retired stars enthral spectators with deft touches, despite age

History repeated itself yesterday under the National Stadium's iconic Dome, as two of football's fiercest rivals crossed swords once more on the pitch.

The England Masters football team beat their German counterparts 4-2 yesterday, 50 years after England beat Germany by the same scoreline to win their first and only World Cup.

A Darren Anderton header, a Teddy Sheringham brace and a contentious Emile Heskey goal secured bragging rights for the English, with Fredi Bobic's two goals proving no more than consolation for the Germans.

Their pace might have deserted them, with several players hiding their paunches under slightly oversized tops, but class, as they say, is permanent and it was perhaps the 10,700 fans who walked away the biggest winners.

Marketing manager Edmund Wong, 25, said: "It was interesting to see the legends come together in Singapore and play a reasonably entertaining game.

"Their touches are still there and technically they're still superior to what we're used to here."

Arsenal fan Siddharth Subash, 30, said: "It was nice seeing the old stars. For their age, they looked really good. There were six goals so I'm really happy with the experience."

Their words would be pleasing to the players, with both teams praising the excited crowd who cheered every good move, applauded each goal and laughed at the odd stumble.

Lothar Matthaus, captain of Germany's 1990 World Cup-winning team, said: "What I want, when we come to a game with ex-players, is that we make people happy and see people happy. This is (like) winning the game.

"I was surprised at the speed from these old players. The atmosphere and the stadium was great."

The players, who are all above 35, certainly looked up for the clash, drawing oohs and ahhs from the crowd with full-blooded tackles, nutmegs and slick combinations.

England, wearing red, looked sharper overall. David James, whose frequent clangers earned him the nickname Calamity James, was assured all evening, collecting crosses and long balls with ease.

Emile Heskey, whose finest game would arguably be England's 5-1 demolition of Germany in 2001, played out of his skin, tormenting the German defence with his strength, flicks and incisiveness.

The former Liverpool striker was quick to claim his goal, which looked to have come off Germany defender Jens Nowotny. "Of course (it's mine), no doubt about it," he said, before taking his seat at the post-match press conference.

There was consolation for the Germans, with Bobic and Matthaus pleased with the number of fans in the crowd sporting jerseys of Bundesliga teams.

Bobic said: "I hope they got what they expected. We are a little bit older, not so fast any more, but there's a lot of passion in the game."

Defeat nevertheless rankles and Matthaus said: "We gave our best but England were better today. I hope we can play again next year.

"We are ready for a rematch and I hope we will change the result."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Veterans show mastery'. Print Edition | Subscribe