England: Remembering Ashley Cole's incredible performance vs Portugal at Euro 2004

Ashley Cole vs Portugal at Euro 2004 - an iconic performance!

England's Euro 2004 campaign ended in heartbreak.

Like most tournaments in the 2000s - before Steve McClaren took over as manager - optimism among Three Lions fans for Euro 2004 was high as the country was in the midst of a 'Golden Generation'.

You had the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Michael Owen and more all at the peak of their powers.

England also had an 18-year-old whippersnapper named Wayne Rooney in their team, the teenage sensation memorably scoring a hat-trick in the 4-2 group stage win over Croatia.

Sven Goran Eriksson's team was littered with quality, but the Three Lions were sadly eliminated at the quarter-final stage by host nation Portugal.

England players after losing to Portugal

It was a dramatic game which saw Rooney taken off injured after just 27 minutes, Sol Campbell have a 90th minute winner controversially disallowed and England predictably beaten in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw.

A true European Championship classic, a game which saw one member of England's fabled 'Golden Generation' stand head and shoulders above the rest.

No, it wasn't Owen or Lampard, the Three Lions' goal scorers on the day. The man we're talking about is Arsenal and Chelsea legend, Ashley Cole.

Cole tackles Cristiano Ronaldo

The left-back was one of the only members of the 'Golden Generation' to regularly replicate his form at club level on the international stage.

Against Portugal over 16 years ago, Cole was simply magnificent and you can watch his highlights from the game below.

Ashley Cole vs Portugal at Euro 2004

A defensive masterclass, one which expertly nullified the threat of a young Cristiano Ronaldo, who was operating on the right-wing.

Not only did Cole perform to a world-class standard during his 120 minutes of playing time; he also scored his penalty in the shootout.

The now 39-year-old really was 'Mr Dependable' for England and is without a doubt the greatest left-back to have donned the Three Lions jersey.

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