Reminiscing about Euro '96 inevitably brings feelings of overwhelming sadness (I still can't bear to watch footage of Gareth Southgate's semi-final penalty miss) but it was still an entertaining tournament that brought plenty of highlights.
Aside from England, I - like many others - found myself drawn to supporting Czech Republic, who were competing in their first major finals. Despite an impressive qualifying campaign they were considered among the underdogs, but ended up beating Italy, Portugal and France on their way to an agonising golden-goal final defeat by Germany.
The Czechs were unquestionably the neutrals' favourite and their most memorable contribution to my own footballing psyche was when future Manchester United winger Karel Poborsky scored an audacious scooped lob against Portugal in the quarter-finals. It was a goal that was attempted many a time on the school playing field without ever being effectively executed.
Although Euro '96 was a major part of my education as a football supporter - it certainly taught me never to believe England will win a major tournament - it was around that time that I started to go off wearing football shirts to play the game. Ridiculous as it sounds, for years I abandoned the traditional kits as, to me, they felt heavy and itchy, had unseemly collars and stuck to me like velcro whenever I worked up a good sweat. Cotton T-shirts were my garment of choice for any sporting activity for well over a decade.
However, with months to go before Euro 2012, the chance arose to end my years in the football shirt wilderness when I was offered a Czech Republic shirt. With the many happy memories of those halcyon summer days on '96, I decided to give it a shot. I was not disappointed.
I pulled on the new Czech Republic away shirt from PUMA with some trepidation, but was shocked when the polyester kit felt as light as a feather and just as comfortable, possibly even more comfortable, than my tried and trusted cotton collection. Better was to come as, once the game got going in pretty cold conditions, I swiftly warmed up and remained at a comfortable temperature throughout the 60-minute run around. By the time the game was complete, and despite having steamrollered my way up and down the pitch throughout, I realised I hadn't noticed any discernible change in how the shirt felt, despite having sweated buckets. It felt like I'd been wearing it for years.
The white Czech Republic away shirt has contrasting neck and cuff bindings, the colours of which are inspired from the team crest, while underarm mesh inserts increase breathability and the ergonomically designed cut lines ensure maximum comfort. And for the average single lad - once quick spin on my washing machine's 'Sport Light' setting and it was spotlessly clean and ready for use again.
While my attempts at finally scoring a Poborsky-esque lob inevitably came short on the west London five-a-side pitch, wearing the new Czech Republic Euro 2012 kit did manage to rekindle a long-lost penchant for sporting football shirts. Cheers PUMA.