After the top down heyday of the 16-bit football games, fans waited to see what developments the glorious CD revolution would bring. Glimpses came from two different versions of FIFA International Soccer: the fab-whizzo all-new 3DO game, and the DOS port of the original, the CD version of which featured audio commentary from the late Tony Gubba.

Unfortunately, you could only play the former if you had a 3DO, and the latter was still basically the Megadrive FIFA and therefore fundamentally a fairly awful game of computer footy. (Plus, while Tony Gubba was definitely a recognisable voice off the telly, he was – with all due respect – more of a “third match on Match of the Day” kind of guy than someone who’d be handed the big World Cup games).

FIFA ’96 brought the 3D engine and match commentary together. And it wasn’t just any old commentary: it was provided by none other than Motty himself, the BBC’s John Motson. The recently retired Motson isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, with his excitable nature seemingly inspiring the whole next generation of commentators to go absolutely bananas at a late winner during an inconsequential mid-table encounter, and many at the time preferred the more measured stylings of Barry Davies (who provided duties on rival title Actua Soccer). However, for most fans of a certain age, Motty was the voice of football.

To fire up the demo and hear his voice booming out of your speakers for the first time was really something, regardless of the fact that EA made him utter the words “Virtual Stadium Soccer”. The demo featured the teams from the 1994 World Cup final: Brazil and Italy. And, this reference to Virtual Stadium aside, it looked, sounded and felt – at the time – like the real thing.

Even now, the simplicity of the FIFA ’96 commentary works in its favour, with subsequent games’ attempts to add detail only serving to make the presentation seem less authentic (a reasonably recent iteration which punctuated the action with incessant updates from AI matches sticks in the memory).

The game itself, though a massive step forward from the original FIFA, was a little on the clumsy side and contemporary critics (wrongly, in my view) compared it unfavourably with Actua Soccer, even to the extent that an advertising campaign for Actua specifically referenced the critical consensus. But FIFA ’96 was the template for the future of the series, and for the next generation of football games.