The English might have offended some footballing gods or perhaps it is a curse place on the football of this nation. The English public has always held high hopes of succeeding at every tournament the country goes to. In 2018 in Russia, the English fans coined a song called “Football is Coming Home” in the hope that they would emerge victorious at the World Cup. The hope stemmed from the Age Group teams emerging as World Champions at both the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups in 2017. it was widely believed that the senior team and the women’s team would bring smiles to the faces of the long suffering English football fans
The golden generation of English football grew cold feet whenever they went to various tournaments. The low point of English football came in2007 when the team failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 tournament that as held in Switzerland and Austria. When the team made it to the 2010 World in South Africa, it still came short of the soccer loving country’s expectations of going beyond the round of 16. Talents has never been a problem for the English and how the team does not perform well to win tournaments at senior level still remains a mystery.
During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, against all odds, the country produced a stunning performance by going all the way to the semi-finals. The team had never won a penalty shootout in some recent memories but in the round of 16 match against Colombia, the team produced nerveless performance emerging victorious in the shootout and thereby going all the way to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, England swept aside a Sweden side that progressed from the group, which had world champions Germany.
Much was being said in the English media in the lead up to the semi-finals against Croatia. The English media believed that “football was finally coming home” after 54 years of pain and anguish. The team however, did not live up to the expectations losing in the semifinal in extra-time. The loss was a case of de javu for the English public and fans around the world. The hope of ending the 54- year trophy drought for the English rumbled on. In the Nations League tournament, England proved to be a force to reckon emerging top of group consisting Spain and Croatia. In the semi-finals in Portugal, the script seemed to favour England as the took an early lead against the Dutch only to succumb to defeat as the match wore on.
Fast forward to the year 2019, at the women’s world cup in France, England manager, Phil Neville openly declared that the team is targeting the ultimate price and bookmakers set them among the pre-tournament favourites to challenge the U.S.A’s stranglehold on the crown they had won four years ago.
The team started like a house on fire and a team on a mission to show the world that they were serious at the tournament. The swept aside all teams in the groups and progressed to the knockout phases of the competition. The team was defensively sound just conceding a goal in the first three games of the tournament. In the next two rounds, the team scored six goals with the defence shutting their opponents.
In the semi-finals, the team came up against the might U.S.A team led by Alex Morgan Meagan Rapinoe . The team came short of the expectations raised in the previous rounds. It was a familiar feeling and sight of seeing the English team coming short of glory.
The 1966 triumph at Wembley remains the only major trophy the English football family has to show for their efforts. However, it must be pointed out that the controversy around Sir Geoff Hurst’s goal against West Germany in the final might have spelled some bad luck for the English football fraternity. Since that momentous moment for the English football fraternity, the country has never experienced any lucky in tournament the team participates in. The Germany football gods might have cast a spell on the English football family. Though the English did suffer from controversy which favoured the Germans at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when a Frank Lampard effort was deemed not to have crossed the line when it clearly crossed the goal line of Manuel Nuer the Germany goalkeeper.
It remains to be seen if the English misfortune will end in the Euro 2020 tournament to be played in the summer of 2021 because of the covid-19 pandemic that ravaged the world for much of 2020 so far. A round of 16 match against bitter rivals Germany present a stern test of the English’s credentials at the tournament.