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What life was like in 1990 when England last played in a World Cup semi-final

By Jenna Dobbs

England will be aiming to make history tonight as they play in their first World Cup semi-final in almost three decades.

The team will go head-to-head with Croatia in a bid to reach a first major tournament final since the glory of 1966.

It has been 28 years since England last had the chance to do the same thing.

Here's what life was like when England played Germany in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

The internet finally started to take shape in 1990
The internet finally started to take shape in 1990

1 The first web browser was created

In the autumn of 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created the first ever web server.

His invention laid the foundations of the world wide web we know and love today.

Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Picture: Nelson Mandela Foundation
Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Picture: Nelson Mandela Foundation

2 Nelson Mandela was released from prison

The South-African revolutionary was finally freed from prison the year England almost brought football home.

He went on to serve as president of South Africa between 1994 and 1999 - the country's first black head of state.

Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, on a visit to Ashford in 1973
Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, on a visit to Ashford in 1973

3 Margaret Thatcher was prime minister

Britain's first female prime minister was still running the country when England played in Italia '90 but handed in her resignation in November of that year, after more than 11 years in power.

The controversial political figure ran as the Conservative candidate for the strong Labour seat of Dartford in 1950 and 1951.

She also met her husband, Denis Thatcher, in the town.

England manager Gareth Southgate in his iconic waistcoat. Picture: PA Wire
England manager Gareth Southgate in his iconic waistcoat. Picture: PA Wire

4 Gareth Southgate was playing for Crystal Palace

England manager Gareth Southgate began his career at Crystal Palace, before becoming captain at the age of 22.

He was given the nickname "Nord", because his voice reminded coaches of retired presenter Denis Norden.

HDTV was broadcast for the first time during the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Picture: iStockphoto
HDTV was broadcast for the first time during the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Picture: iStockphoto

5 HDTV was broadcast for the first time

The 1990 World Cup marked the first broadcast of high-definition television in history.

Most people in Europe didn't start getting access to HD channels until the early 2000s.

Part of the Berlin Wall pictured at Royal Engineers Museum, Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham. Picture: Steve Crispe
Part of the Berlin Wall pictured at Royal Engineers Museum, Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham. Picture: Steve Crispe

6 The Berlin Wall was being destroyed

The wall through Berlin split East and West Germany, having been constructed by the German Democratic Republic.

It famously fell in November 1989 but it actually took two years to fully demolish the concrete structure. Germany was officially unified as a single country on October 3, 1990.

Engineers met under the Channel in 1990
Engineers met under the Channel in 1990

7 Channel Tunnel workers met underground

Engineers from Britain and France met 40 metres below the English Channel seabed.

It was the first connection between our tiny island and mainland Europe for 8,000 years.

8. But...

If you wanted to Google how England was doing in the world cup in 1990 you'd have to wait another seven years - it didn't become a search engine until 1990. And if you wanted to tell your friends on Facebook that's another 14 years away. It was first "a thing" in 2004.

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