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History suggests England's young Euro 2016 squad could thrive in France

Fernando Torres, Mario Gotze and Marcus Rashford

After Roy Hodgson named the youngest England squad for a competitive tournament for 58 years, fans have been getting all hot under the collar that this could be the dawning of a new, vibrant era.

Five wins in the last six in the run-up to Euro 2016, including a thrilling comeback success over world champions Germany, has only heightened pre-tournament anticipation, and with few other squads possessing a more youthful look than the Three Lions' - 25 years and 10 months on average - this is very much a new generation to pin hopes upon.

Slovakia coach Jan Kozak has already began the mind games ahead of his team's meeting with Hodgson's side on June 20 in Saint-Etienne, questioning whether it is a good thing to have so many inexperienced starlets in the ranks.

Average age of Euro 2016 squads

Country Average age
Republic of Ireland 29 years 10 months
Russia 29 years 4 months
Czech Republic 29 years 3 months
Slovakia 29 years
Italy 28 years 11 months
Romania 29 years 9 months
Northern Ireland 28 years 7 months
Portugal 28 years 5 months
Spain 28 years 1 month
France 28 years
Hungary 28 years
Ukraine 27 years 11 months
Sweden 27 years 10 months
Austria 27 years 8 months
Croatia 27 years 8 months
Iceland 27 years 8 months
Albania 27 years 7 months
Poland 27 years 7 months
Wales 27 years 4 months
Turkey 27 years
Belgium 26 years 5 months
Switzerland 26 years 1 month
Germany 26 years
England 25 years 10 months

"Each team has got its weaknesses, however there is quite a number of young English players in the team so let's see how they cope with the pressure of the public, the pressure of expectations, the pressure of the media," Kozak said.

"There are experienced players in the team, however, most of them are quite young."

Does Kozak have a point? Do squads with the youngest average age fall flat when it really counts? It seems experience may not always be the bellwether of success.

Euro 2012

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 28:  Mario Balotelli (R) of Italy celebrates with team-mate Claudio Marchisio after scoring
Image: Italy striker Mario Balotelli got the better of Germany in 2012

Youngest squad - Germany (24.52 years old on average)

Result: Semi-finalists

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Germany's Euro 2012 line-up was the youngest squad ever named for a European Championships. Boss Joachim Low was starting to build a team capable of securing a second trophy as a unified country, and after negotiating a tough-looking group with a 100 per cent record and cruising past 2004 winners Greece in the quarter-finals to book a last-four clash with an unfancied Italy, glory seemed to be on the horizon.

Sky Sports Euro 2016 predictor
Sky Sports Euro 2016 predictor

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However, two goals from the enigmatic Mario Balotelli secured Italy yet another victory over Die Mannschaft to send Low's young guns crashing out - continuing the miserable record of having never beaten the Azzurri in a competitive international tournament. However, the seeds were planted as many of the same players went on to taste World Cup success in Brazil two years later.

Euro 2008

Russia celebrate shock win over the Netherlands
Image: Russia celebrate shock win over the Netherlands

Youngest squad - Russia (26.15 years old on average)

Result: Semi-finalists

Almost every European Championship throws up a surprise package to further enhance the excitement - Denmark and Greece's fairy-tale wins in 1992 and 2004, respectively, Republic of Ireland's showing at Euro '88 and Czech Republic's appearance in the Euro '96 final to name but a few.

Thierry Henry's Euro 2016 preview
Thierry Henry's Euro 2016 preview

Thierry Henry's Euro 2016 preview: England, France and Germany

Euro 2008 was no exception. Guus Hiddink's Russia came with a squad of players relatively unheard of to the masses, but left with a host of suitors chasing these young, exciting stars. It took eventual winners Spain to bring the exhilarating Russians to a standstill in the semi-finals.

Euro 2004

Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal beat Spain at Euro 2004
Image: Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal beat Spain

Youngest squad - Spain (25.47 years old on average)

Result: Out in the group stages

The only nation in the last 20 years with the youngest squad not to make the knockout stages of a European Championships were Spain in 2004. It was an anomaly of a tournament in general, with Greece winning with the second oldest squad, and Germany and Italy also crashing out at the group stage.

Much of the blame for Spain's poor showing in Portugal was laid on inexperienced coach Inaki Saez, who was demoted back to the U21s after the tournament.

Euro 2000

Zinedine Zidane helps send Spain home from Euro 2000
Image: Zinedine Zidane helps send Spain home

Youngest squad: Spain (26.55 years old on average)

Result: Quarter-finalists

The France "Golden Generation" were very much still in their prime when they knocked a talented Spain side out at the quarter-final stage. Jose Antonio Camacho's men recovered after a shock opening defeat to Norway to top their group, before being defeated by the eventual winners in Bruges.

The first tournament of the 21st century was not one for youth, with 26.54 being a surprisingly high youngest squad average age. A one-capped unknown by the name of Iker Casillas helped to bring the average down. 

Euro 1996

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 15:  England goalscorer Paul Gascoigne celebrates in the 'Dentists Chair'
Image: Football almost came home in 1996

Youngest squad: England (25.68 years old on average)

Result: Semi-finalists

We had the song, were hosting the tournament for the first time and had a talented team with age on their side, but once again penalties were England's undoing at Euro '96. Twenty-one-year-old Gary Neville had already made the right-back slot his own, Sol Campbell (21) and Gareth Southgate's (25) inclusion at the expense of an injured Mark Wright, and Robbie Fowler's (21) emergence all helped the Three Lions possess the youngest squad average age.

England's semi-final conquerors Germany went on to win the tournament, while Scotland certainly didn't fancy giving youth a chance, with an average squad age of 29.31.

Euro 2016?

Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring his side's opening goal
Image: Marcus Rashford could be an England fixture for years to come

Whether Kozak actually believes what he is insinuating only he knows, it could easily be a ploy to try and get under the skin of their upcoming opponents.

History suggests there is very little to back the Slovakia coach's claims, with three of the last five youngest squads reaching the semi-finals. A late tweak to the Germany squad means England will go into the tournament with the second-youngest group - but can take confidence from the efforts of previous tournaments. 

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Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford discuss the 18 year-old's meteoric rise to England's Euro 2016 squad.

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