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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Is football coming home?

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AFTER Harry Kane scored England’s third goal against Ukraine, four things popped into my mind.

The first was, England had not yet conceded a goal in five of their matches thus far in the 2021 European Football Championships.

The second was, “Hey, England could win it all.”

The third was, “How unlucky can Andriy Shevchenko get?”

Shevchenko was a player for AC Milan when they lost to Liverpool in the 2005 UEFA Champions League Finals after spotting the latter a 3-nil lead in the first half. Milan went to lose a penalty shootout.

This time around, managing Ukraine which has done well in this tournament, they lost 4-nil to England.

I wonder if Shevchenko is tired of the color red (which is the color of both Liverpool and England).

And fourth and last, I thought of the song “Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)” by English rock band, the Lightning Seeds together with comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel.

The song was released during the 1996 Euros in which England was the host. Unfortunately for England which was knocked out in the semi-finals by Germany (6-5 in penalty kicks and went on to win the tournament).

The funny thing about that song is it has proven to be popular among opposing teams and countries. In fact, Germany, on their way to Wembley Stadium in 1996 to face the home team, were singing it in their team bus.

I am happy for England and English football fans. They are back in the semis after 25 years. En route to the final four, they won a knockout match; only the third time they have done so.

They got the semis of the World Cup in Russia but they lost to Croatia, 2-1, after letting the lead slip away.

Of course, England fans are getting ahead of themselves with the 4-nil win over Ukraine. They know they have to get past Denmark then if they do so, face the winner of the Italy-Spain match in the finals.

Two more wins. Both a tall order.

England fans have been on the short end of ribbing for so long. For the country that invented the game of football, they have only won one major title and that is the 1966 World Cup.

Since that year, France has won it twice. Spain once. And Germany and Italy have won thrice and twice respectively.

Opposing fans taunt them of how the English invented the game but the Germans, Italians, and Brazilians’even the Dutch and Spanish’have perfected it. In fact, football’s nickname—“the Beautiful Game”—was bequeathed by none other than the acknowledged best player Pele who is Brazilian.

I’ve heard that laterally about how the game of basketball was invented by the Americans but perfected by the Yugoslavians. It is a statement I do not totally agree with but let them have it.

Imagine this… if England wins it all (yes, I know we are getting ahead of it all), they’ll be stealing back the game. Gareth Southgate, who played under Terry Venables in the 1996 Euros and every minute of all their matches, would get a measure of vindication because it was his botched penalty that allowed Germany to advance in that tournament. He’d be a national hero.

And for England and Southgate, that is not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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