July 12, 2021

I remember Paul Gascoigne in floods of tears after being booked during England’s iconic semi-final defeat to West Germany in Turin back in 1990. I watched Gareth Southgate hit the post in that semi-final penalty shoot out against Germany in 1996. And I watched a 23-year-old David Beckham get sent off the pitch after lashing out at Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup. You can’t grow up in England and not care about football. Football, bangers, the Queen –– they’re British essentials. Penalties are thrilling, agonizing and heartbreaking to watch, and last night’s penalty shoot out between England and Italy was all the above. I’m happy for the Italians, I really am, but I’m gutted for our England boys. Throughout the game, I kept picturing my many English friends, on the edge of their Habitat sofas, or crammed into London pubs, cheering and speechless. I pictured my brother, a devoted fan, holding his head as 19-year-old Bukayo Saka missed England’s final penalty. There are few things more unifying than a big football game. We come together in our joy, in our loss, in regret and hope. I thought about London and how quiet it must have been last night and this morning. International correspondent for Australia’s SBS news, Ben Lewis, tweeted: “Streets of London are strangely quiet and the back of my cab smells like tequila and sausage rolls, so fair to say it was a big night. #itsnotcominghome.”


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