John Beresford earned one solitary England call-up during his career. The left-back wasn’t afforded any minutes in that 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™ qualifier in Turkey, but the trip is something he’ll never forget.
“It was really nerve-racking meeting up with the squad for the first time,” the 5ft 6ins former Newcastle United player recalled. “But Ian Wright greeted me with an ‘alright, big man?’ and Gazza was pulling clown faces behind Graham Taylor’s back! It really lightened the mood!”
Beresford enjoyed that dressing-room banter, but he expected the mood to take a serious tone as he walked out onto the training pitch. That was until he saw Wright and Paul Gascoigne diving through mud puddles, to the amazement and delight of a gasping Turkish audience and irk of manager Taylor!
“It was like being back at school, with the teacher trying hopelessly to control the two naughty schoolboys!” said Beresford, chuckling. “The Turkish press and fans were in absolute hysterics!
“Gazza and Wrighty together, it was a frightening combination! I remember the bread roll fight they had at the hotel restaurant – they were about 20 yards apart, absolutely pinging them at each other as other guests were trying to have a nice quiet meal!
“And when Taylor was giving his team talk before the game, every time he turned to the board Gazza and Wrighty would be either doing impressions behind his back or play fighting. Then he’d turn back round and they’d sit up straight, look all serious, nod their heads as if they had been giving him their undivided attention. After he’d given his final instructions to the team, Taylor then thanked Gazza and Wright for the entertainment! It was hilarious!”