Euro 2020… In 2021!
International tournaments for me divide football fans into 3 categories:
Group 1 –They go to their local pub with their mates. Throw beer in the air for what is apparent ‘scenes’ that get you on Lad Bible!
Group 2– The ‘anti’ England brigade! Always put club before country never being able to set domestic rivalries aside. I have a mate who has stated if a certain player (we won’t name) starts then he wants England to lose!
Group 3– That small group of fans that embark on crazy journeys around Europe.
Highlights of Qualifying
My personal highlight from qualifying this time round was Kosovo away. Flight from Birmingham to Bulgaria. Collection of a minibus for 9 that we couldn’t take out of Bulgaria or would be fined. A 6 hour drive to Macedonia for the night so we can watch England Under 17s play in Skopje the next day. Finally a drive to Kosovo in a game we didn’t need to win as we’d already qualified. We crossed a 2ndborder and incurred a 2nd 300 Euro fine. We then drove 7 hours back to Bulgaria the next day for a flight home!
Individually we all know what group we fall into. The one common thing across all groups whether we attempt to deny it or not, as soon as the whistle goes in the 1stgame of the tournament, we are all hooked wanting FOOTBALL TO COME HOME!
So how are England going to get on ?
My personal view is that we have as good a chance as we have ever had.
The provisional squad has been named with friendlies taking place next week. As the tournament is closing in, I’m getting a similar feel to Euro 96 or maybe that’s just nostalgia kicking in!
Six of England’s potential seven games could be played at Wembley. I KNOW, Wembley won’t be full, but we have seen from the few games played with fans a difference this can make.
We have players who are more than capable. Players who have shown on the biggest club stage that they can shine (even that 17-year-old who was going to sit on the bench, remember him?). They are dynamic, quick, and fearless who on any given day can all be match winners. We have a striker who is on par with anyone in world football in that position! Granted the defence is not what it once was in the so-called Golden Era that won nothing either but I’ll gloss over that and focus on the positives for now!
Dare I start comparing Kane to Shearer, Foden to Gazza, Mount to Sheringham or even Rice to Ince! Easy 3 points with Scotland in our group as it was back then… quick someone roll out Baddiel and Skinner ASAP or even better New Order with a modern version of World In Motion!
Can it really come home? Should we still believe after all this time? It’s hard not to really and it’s hard not to be sucked in by the hype! The media have been telling us at every opportunity that we have the best core of young players in Europe and that this is England’s year. The bookies seem to believe this to be true with England pre-tournament favourites.
3 years of adventures now coming to an end, counting down the minutes to June 13that 1400hr when the whistle goes for England’s 1stgame with the hope that we are the nation still standing on 11thJuly. You start to look back at the memories made, money spent and places you’ve travelled and think was it all worth it? The fact is whether we go out in the groups, lose in the 1/4 final or finally bring it home. Every journey, every flight and every experience will always be more than worth it.
I’d love to be able to bottle it all and sell it, it’s addictive, there is nothing quite like it. The pride you feel around the world when following England, the emotion when the anthem starts and the euphoria when the ball hits the net can be described. It’s a moment in time that you’d love to freeze and a bubble you want to stay in forever.
Here’s to the latest summer of fun, whatever group you are in reading this, enjoy every single second of it.
Watch out for more stories from our “Bluenose on International duty“