Well, it was fun while it lasted. Surpassing all expectations and making the nation dare to dream, the England football team reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia for the first time since 1990 and made the whole country proud of what they achieved.While ultimately the trophy won’t be coming home, every member of the 23-man playing squad and the backroom staff will be coming back as heroes for their efforts and for giving us that feel-good factor over the last couple of weeks.
England arrived on Russian soil with little or no chance of winning the competition. Almost day-by-day, a giant of world football crashed out of the tournament and hope began to creep in. Could we actually do it, could England finally win the World Cup for the first time since 1966? We even won a penalty shoot-out, so you bet we could!
England did the nation proud
Unfortunately, as we all now know all too well and all too painfully, it wasn’t to be. After 5 minutes of the semi-final against Croatia in Moscow, Kieran Trippier – Bury’s finest export – put England ahead and we believed that it was finally coming home.
The vast parks and squares around the UK that had been transformed into fan parks with giant television screens were a sight to behold. Beer flew everywhere, fans embraced complete strangers and Three Lions was number one in the charts. Then it all went horrifically wrong.
Croatia fought back in the second half, taking the game into extra time before grabbing a winner in the second period and booking their place in the Final against France on Sunday.
It was heart-breaking for England fans young and old, but a proud time to be an English football fan. The players gave it their all, they were fearless and went into every game looking to attack and score goals.
Normally the sight of the England team crashing out of another competition would be greeted by criticism in the media and the calls for the manager to be sacked, followed by the retirement of another member of “the golden generation.”
This time around, however, every player to have pulled on an England shirt did us proud. From the living rooms with people watching on their TVs with friends and family around them to the packed pubs and fan parks around the country watching on giant screens; the nation believed it could genuinely happen – and it so nearly did, finally, come home. Next time.