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Since their first appearance in the competition in 1950, England's World Cup story has been one of broken dreams, bad luck, shock losses and penalty nightmares, with one shining exception in 1966, when they famously won the Cup after beating Germany 4-2.

In Three Lions Versus the World, Mark Pougatch talks to those who have shaped England's World Cup odyssey, from Brazil 1950 when England lost to the amateurs of America, through the triumph of 1966 and the subsequent failure to retain the Cup in 1970, to the spirit-sapping quarter-final defeats in Japan 2002 and Germany 2006.

Household names such as Sir Tom Finney, Don Howe, Martin Peters, Trevor Brooking, Gary Lineker, Tony Adams, Glenn Hoddle and Danny Mills share their personal recollections of playing for England both on and off the pitch in the World Cup. Some reveal how they were affected by the demands placed upon them and by the mounting pressure of expectation from the English public. Others comment candidly on the myriad controversies to befall the England squad over the years. Massive highs are recounted and crushing lows painfully recollected. The contributors are united in the pride they shared in wearing the Three Lions shirt for their country in this most special of tournaments.

The players' stories and anecdotes woven around the narrative of the World Cup itself, this is an unbeatable, entertaining and enlightening journey through half a century of English World Cup action that no football fan can afford to miss.

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