The England football team: an apology.
Before the 2018 World Cup in Russia kicked off last month, this column may have given the impression that England didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of doing well and interest and expectations in the national team were at an all-time low.
I may have said: “After decades of let-downs and betrayals, we’re like a middle-aged divorcee whose partner has run off with their best friend and we’re too afraid of being hurt to wear our heart on our sleeve ever again.”
After Tuesday night’s roller- coaster win on penalties against Colombia, which leaves England 90 minutes (plus extra-time and penalties) away from the semi-finals of the World Cup, all previous statements are inoperative.
England squeaked past Tunisia, hammered Panama, the worst team they’ve ever played at the World Cup, their reserves lost to Belgium’s reserves in the final group game to land in the weakest side of the draw and then put us all through the wringer on Tuesday night.
Now Sweden – not France, Brazil, Uruguay or Belgium – stand between a young England team and a shot at getting to the World Cup Final (just got goosebumps typing that).
Of course, it might all go wrong from here. Let’s be honest, history suggests it might. But as a nation, let’s all just enjoy the moment.
We’re in the middle of a record breaking summer, it’s the best World Cup in living memory, Donald Trump isn’t trying to start World War Three with anyone this week and GCSE and A-level exams are over.
Daughter #1 is currently off gallivanting around Europe with her friends for three weeks and has no interest in football. But she texted from Berlin to say she was watching the game on a big screen with a load of Latin Americans who were cheering on Colombia. So in Germany’s capital city, surrounded by Hispanics. There’s away fans in the home end and then there’s that.
Just before the shoot-out, I texted: “I’ve seen this film before. I know how it ends.” Then five minutes later, bedlam. Is it coming home? I doubt it. But let’s enjoy the ride.