July 3rd 2018
Today I saw England win a World Cup penalty shootout.
Death, taxes, and England losing a penalty shootout. Those are the three certainties in life which I had so far discovered, until tonight. And I saw it with my own eyes — although, I did my best to hide behind my fingers.
I was not confident. I was led on the floor under the human-sized England flag I’d bought from Sainsbury’s for three quid on my way home to watch the match.
In the build up to (and for the first 92 minutes of) the match, I was confident that England would win. But as soon as Colombia equalised in the 93rd minute, I lost that confidence. I got so quiet, and so negative. I was prepared for it. I’ve been conditioned to be prepared for it. The loss. And when penalties came, I fully expected it to be a repeat of 2012, and 2006, and 2004, and 1998, and 1996.
Before today England had never won a World Cup match on penalties. But today they bloody did. Before today England hadn’t won a World Cup knockout match in 12 years. But today they bloody did.
Today, they bloody did it.
The whole “It’s coming home” thing has been overdone a bit, but I don’t care. I’m fully on board. Sure, it was arrogant to be plotting our route to the final before we’d even beaten Colombia. Sure, we’ve not beaten anyone of real quality yet. Sure, we’ve only scored twice from open play, and one of those was a deflected backheel from 25 yards. But I don’t care. I’m on board. I’m on the plane (emotionally, if not physically).
It’s bloody coming home.
Until tomorrow, onto Sweden.