Former Seasiders Heading To France
With the carnival of European football kicking off across the English Channel on Friday evening, those with a tangerine affiliation will keep a wishful eye on a number of former Seasiders representing their country.
Six ex Blackpool men have been named in the final 23-man squad of five separate nations, including Roy Hodgson’s England selection.
Here we round up those hoping to make a mark in France, having previously graced Bloomfield Road.
Wes Hoolahan – Republic of Ireland
First game: vs Sweden, Monday
Reinvigorated under Martin O’Neill, the experienced Wes Hoolahan is a big figure for the Republic of Ireland squad heading into Euro 2016.
At 33, this may well be the innovative winger’s final tournament and having featured off the bench in friendlies with Holland and Belarus, Hoolahan is likely to have a key role to play.
The Irishman featured 32 times as Norwich City dropped into The Championship last season, but will now look to eradicate those memories by adding to his 26 international caps.
Hoolahan was a popular figure at Bloomfield Road, where he signed permanently in 2007. The winger made 99 memorable appearances in tangerine before joining Norwich.
Joe Hart – England
First game: vs Russia, Saturday
This weekend Joe Hart will make his 60th England cap when Roy Hodgson’s men kick off their Euro 2016 campaign against Russia.
The tournament will be Hart’s third as England’s number one, with Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton providing the competition.
An ever present as England cruised to qualification with a perfect record, Hart kept a clean sheet against Portugal in his country’s final warm-up game last week.
The 29-year-old, who made five appearances on loan at Blackpool in 2007, kept 15 clean sheets for Manchester City last season and helped them to the last four of the Champions League.
Craig Cathcart – Northern Ireland
First game: vs Poland, Sunday
Craig Cathcart is set to be a key figure in the heart of the Northern Irish defence this summer, as Michael O’Neill’s side brace themselves for a first major tournament since 1986.
Northern Ireland cruised to qualification by topping their group, with Cathcart a regular throughout, but come up against Germany, Poland and Ukraine in France.
The 27-year-old travels on the back of a successful season with Watford where, like his national team, The Hornets defied the odds by retaining their Premier League status.
Cathcart spent four seasons at Bloomfield Road between 2010 and 2014, before moving to Vicarage Road.
Seamus Coleman – Republic of Ireland
First game: vs Sweden, Monday
Republic of Ireland right-back Seamus Coleman is bracing himself for the challenge of arguably the toughest group at Euro 2016.
The Irish travel to France courtesy of a play-off victory over Bosnia in November, and have been drawn alongside Germany, Belgium and Sweden.
Coleman played 34 times for Everton last season and recovered from a hamstring injury in time to feature in Ireland’s recent friendly draw with Holland.
As a youngster, Coleman played a crucial role in Blackpool’s promotion to the Premier League in 2010, featuring 12 times including in the play-off final at Wembley.
Krisztian Nemeth – Hungary
First game: vs Austria, Tuesday
A name likely to go under the radar for many is Krisztian Nemeth, who has been selected in the Hungary squad for Euro 2016.
The striker had a brief loan spell at Bloomfield Road in 2009, playing just 31 minutes against QPR before fracturing his cheekbone and returning to his parent club Liverpool.
Now 27, Nemeth represents Al-Gharafa in Qatar and was a regular for Hungary during qualification, taking his total caps to 23.
David Vaughan – Wales
First game: vs Slovakia, Saturday
Often an unsung hero but a key cog in the Wales machine, David Vaughan will be looking to help his side through a group which includes England.
This will be Wales’ first major tournament since 1958 and Vaughan is vying for a place in the team, having started their recent friendly against Sweden.
The midfielder has 42 Wales appearances to date and will be hopeful of adding to that total over the summer, after playing on a regular basis for Nottingham Forest last season.
Vaughan spent three seasons with The Seasiders and featured regularly alongside Charlie Adam and Keith Southern, as Pool were promoted to the Premier League in 2010.