Firstly, let me just confirm that as a proud Irishman and the equally proud uncle of two Scottish nieces, that I reserve the right to cheer every single goal, try, point, run or anything else scored against a team representing England at any code.
While I have many English friends and support an ‘English’ soccer team, I still take some strange, tribal pleasure in seeing them struggle at things like sport and Brexit negotiations.
That being said, it’s hard not to have some admiration for this band of plucky potential scapegoats. I would go as far as saying that this may just be the most likeable English sports team of all time – not that it would be difficult to out-charm their current rugby representatives!
And then there’s the Gareth Southgate factor. The man in grey whose penalty was saved by Germany’s Andreas Kopke at Wembley in 1996. Gareth, then a highly-rated centre-half with Aston Villa, has since gone on to have a huge impact on English football as a coach at grassroots level and has led his country to the last 8 of the World Cup.
All in all, this team probably deserves our support. But let’s face it, if the Swedes turn their World Cup sour in the quarter-finals and ‘England’s Going Home’, many of us will celebrate, much like we did when Yerry Mina equalised last Tuesday night!