Notebook: For British fans, Euro2020 offers a piece of hope | World news
Tony Hicks Associated Press
London (AP) – When I was much younger, the national football anthem called “Three Lions” screamed with enthusiasm. The lyrics “Soccer is back” followed “30 years of injuries”.
It was a quarter of a century ago. The 30-year-old injury is 55 years old. And I suffered from all of them.
My earliest sports memory: When West Germany came back from a two-goal deficit and beat England in the quarter-finals in Mexico in 1970, my dad and a much older half-brother shouted about the television screen. I was too young to understand. Huge. Three years later, when England fell to Poland at Wembley and didn’t even qualify for Germany 74, it was a tragic heartbreak for a 10-year-old footballer.
I still remember the desperation exacerbated by my sister against the grain supporting Poland for some reason. England were world champions seven years ago, so it’s important to remember that the disqualification was a national disaster. Another failure to qualify for Argentina ’78 became even more difficult as Scotland qualified for the second World Cup and were delighted to remind the enemy of it. It was.
I continued to be obsessed with encyclopedic knowledge of facts and statistics. And in 1978, even without England, I pretended to be sick and took a week off to watch games live on TV.
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The 80s were a little better. At least we are qualified.
– Although undefeated, due to the exclusion of Spain 82, some English supporters shouted faults with an unfair system. Italy led Paolo Rossi in the attack and hosted the third World Cup. There was Paul Mariner in England. I passed the driving test, but without success I tried to convince my two best friends to drive in Spain in a rusty bucket, the aptly named Triumph Toledo. They were less enthusiastic or common sense than I was. They refused. I saw him alone at home.
– The Hand of God in 1986: The powerful victory over Paraguay gave temporary hope, but who were we kidding? The quarter-final loss to Argentina inspired by Maradona was the right result. I saw the Glastonbury Festival which helped soften the blow, but the return to London was not a happy one. (I took the advice of one of the festival’s headliners, The Cure: “Boys Don’t Cry.”)
– The decade ended at 88 euros in Germany. England have lost all three games. Some of the fans went wild and fought against the Irish, the Dutch, the Germans, the police and maybe each other. I was in college and there were lots of people taking an end-of-year trip to Union Bar. We have wisely decided to oppose it. After all, everyone was happy to see the other side of England.
It is time to take a good look at the situation.
Unlike some of my English comrades, I have always been a realist. They rarely said they were the best team in the world.
But I expected better. After all, we were the country that provided the world with great games. And for much of the 55-year failure, the British team dominated club football at the highest level, making it the most lucrative league in the world since the Premiership began.
I graduated in 1990. Two days after the final exam, I asked my mother to rent a car. She never asked me where I was going. If I had to say Italy, it might have ended before the wonderful adventure began. I stayed in the car for 3 weeks watching the game with the ticket bought outside the premises.
The team gave us something to support. The last minute winner against Belgium and perhaps the emergence of Gaza, perhaps the most talented player in British football, gave us hope. But again, in the hands of the Germans, it ended in tears – Gaza and myself.
When I got to Euro ’96 I was working as a photo editor, editing photos for the event. It cushioned the blow when an inevitable loss occurred, but it was still hard to take. England were the best team in the tournament. Gaza’s goal against Scotland, the dismantling of the Dutch and the fact that they actually won the penalty shoot-out against Spain made us feel that it would be different.
Instead, I still watch the rerun 25 years later.
One step forward, one step back
Immediately after a brief look of hope, it seemed that he often immediately retreated.
The World Cup semi-finals at Italy 90 preceded the group stage defeat at Euro 92 in Sweden. The promise of Euro 96 did not come true, followed by a disappointing exit in France 98 and a start in the group stage of Euro 2000. Mischievous and “golden generation” came and went.
At that time, I actually edited the photos inside the stadium. So, on the courts of Shizuoka, Lisbon and Gelsenkirchen, I saw the exit of England’s most painful quarter-finals.
Portugal in 2004 was difficult to take. Why couldn’t England win a tournament with all their talents, when the final winner was a well-trained but highly artisanal Greek team? The inability of talented players to sideline the club’s rivals has always been seen as a major factor, but in reality it was not enough. I was always very aware of these early layoffs, especially when I thought I had a chance.
But maybe I was starting to care a little more.
As England were overtaken by Germany in 2010 and couldn’t win a single game in 2014 and football Minnow Iceland took the lead in the 16th round in France at Euro 2016, people have failed. I had lost the confidence that I could no longer fear. It was expected.
That said, the 2018 semi-finals in Russia were a welcome relief, giving the country the thrill of entering the second half of a major tournament with over 20 years of experience. But the disappointment was not so far away. I couldn’t beat Croatia in the semi-finals, so the taste remained familiar to my mouth.
The future looked bright. The UK has seen many international successes at the minor level. Winning the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups over the past five years will be a success, as many expected. In many ways, the COVID-influenced Euro 2020 delay has enabled Mason Mount and Phil Foden to become prominent and influential players in European games.
This talent has allowed us once again to dream of the “return” of football.
Everyone was delighted with a 2-0 victory over their German rivals in the 16th round on June 29. My 5 year old daughter was crazy about it. Suddenly, the protective instinct of the father took over. I decided to prepare for the worst and save her from years of grief.
“Do you know Britain can lose? ” I said.
“England never loses! She declared herself a rebel.
Wednesday’s semi-final against Denmark was nervous. Even my old coping mechanism was shrinking to immerse me in work. Every once in a while I would go back to this 10 year old kid from the 1970s, but there was a twist of responsibility. I was now supporting England with two people. I started to believe it again and my little girl, who trusted England’s invincibility, wanted to leave at least one more game.
And it happened: England won. Well, after 30 years of injuries (no, 55), we move on to the final against Italy.
My daughter claims that we are invincible. I hope she is right.
Tony Hicks is London-based deputy director of international photography for the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter. http://twitter.com/hicksy663
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